The Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego on Monday announced a female Weedy Seadragon transferred eggs to a male, which experts say is an “extremely rare occurrence” while in captivity

According to the aquarium, Seadragon males are responsible for carrying the eggs. An egg transfer is quick, but it occurs only after seadragons participate in an elaborate courtship “dance”, a statement from the aquarium read.  

“We’re elated to be able to witness this at the aquarium,” said Jenn Nero Moffatt, senior director of animal care, science, and conservation at the Birch. “It’s extremely rare for seadragons to breed in captivity so this is a monumental milestone for all of our staff.” 

The male and female mirror each other, often with their tails curled away from their mate, and spin together snout-to-snout moving up and down in the water column. Aquarium officials call this dance “essential” for the successful transfer of eggs from the female onto the male’s tail, where he then fertilizes and hosts the eggs. 

The male seadragon will carry the eggs on his tail for up to six weeks until they are ready to hatch. 

Moffatt said they’ve been working with seadragons since 1996, learning “from the lighting to the rockwork” on how to strategically design to help seadragons breed.

Though this is the first time a seadragon has laid eggs on the public side of the aquarium, Birch Aquarium has previously seen success behind the scenes with the birth of two Weedy Seadragon babies in February 2020 when it became one of only a handful of aquariums in the world to breed these mysterious animals. 

To learn more about the Seadragon breeding program at Scripps Institution of Oceonography, visit

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