The Dragon Seamoth
Contributed by Allister Lee
saw the Dragon Sea Moth (Eurypegasus draconis) at a dive site at Mabul
Island. Ribbon Valley to be exact. I took a few shots of this cool little fish
a week ago and it is still around now. Hopefully it's gonna stay for a while.
sea moth is not a common fish you can find around here but they can be expected
from time to time around the flat, sandy bottom of Mabul Island and Kapalai
Island. I once discovered four Dragon sea moths at Roach Reefs before in the
same dive and site. But I don't think you can see any at Sipadan Island.
The Dragon sea moth is one of the strangest fish in the world! Also known as
the Little Dragon fish, Short Dragon fish and the Pegasus Sea Moth, this creature
actually has the ability to change colors based on its surroundings much like
the chameleon. If this wasn't weird enough they also shed their skin like a
snake in a single piece!
They also have two wing like fins that extend out on
either side of their bodies. As you can imagine, all of these strange characteristics
make the Dragon Sea Moth a favorite among macro lovers. Dragon Sea Moths are
not large, only growing to about 6 inch (15 cm) max. From
this angle in the picture on the right, you can actually see how it resembles
a moth and that's where they got their name from.
moths are distinguished by flattened bodies, the presence of large, wing-like,
pectoral-fins and a body encased in thick, bony plates.
Their modified pelvic-fins allow them to "crawl" across the sea bottom
where they dwell. Check out the claws at the tip of the wing in the image on
Seamoths are masters of camouflaging but up close you can see just how beautiful
the body-patterns look.
Besides the cool lookin body patterns and wings, big gleaming eyes and all,
check out the snout. I guess its been telling a lot of lies and having too much
fun with silly Pinocchio.
The Dragon sea moth have an elongated snout in front of its jaw. The jaw is
highly specialized and can form a tube-like mouth to suck worms and other tiny
marine creatures from their burrows.
- The seamoths are a family, the Pegasidae, of fish found only in coastal
- As of now, there are only two genera: Eurypegasus and Pegasus and five species
known, namely the Eurypegasus draconis (our subject today), Eurypegasus
papilio (Hawaian seamoth), Pegasus lancifer (Sculptured seamoth),
Pegasus laternarius, Pegasus volitans (Long tail seamoth)
- It can awesomely shed its skin to grow a new one and change colors to camouflage
- When threatened, it will spread its wings out like picture #2
- It is strongly believed that the seamoth is poisonous but its not really
proven or studied yet. There's still a debate going on about whether its needle-like
spines are poisonous or not.
- A very delicate and strange creature, seamoths are sold at aquarium shops
at a very expensive price. But since it is not easy to care for, the seamoths
are not popular aquarium pets.
- It is said that in olden days, seamoths caught in China are so revered
that it is dried and used in magic amulets.
- The elusive sea moths don't bite because they have no teeth