One of two rare Weedy Seadragons recently born at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. This is the first time Birch Aquarium has bred and successfully hatched this unusual fish.

One of two rare Weedy Seadragons recently born at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. This is the first time Birch Aquarium has bred and successfully hatched this unusual fish. (Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography/TNS)

LA JOLLA, Calif. - University of California, San Diego's Birch Aquarium has successfully bred and hatched a pair of rare Weedy Seadragons, making Birch one of the few aquariums in the world to carry out such breeding.

The inch-long fish appear to be healthy and have had their first meal, consuming bits of shrimp, the aquarium said.

"This is a momentous event for our team and our seahorse and seadragon breeding program," Jennifer Nero Moffatt, the aquarium's director of animal care, said in a statement.

"Seadragons are charismatic, sensitive, and require detailed husbandry. We have spent over 25 years working with these animals and love that we have made the next steps to conserve this delicate species."

Birch established a successful breeding program for seahorses, leading the aquarium to branch out and try to breed Weedy Seadragons, which are native to Australia.

"Weedy Seadragons perform elaborate mating displays, where partners spin together snout-to-snout and move up and down in the water column," the aquarium said in a statement.

"This 'dance' is essential for the successful transfer of eggs from the female onto the male's tail, where he then fertilizes and hosts the eggs. If mating is successful, the male will hold the eggs until they hatch about 6 weeks later."

For the time being, the baby Weedy Seadragons will not be viewable by the public. The aquarium's Weedy Seadragons display is off display to enable Birch to perform a lengthy cleaning of the habitat.

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