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"Rare mating success": New England Aquarium surprised by birth of 20 baby seadragons

Seadragon babies born at New England Aqaurium
Seadragon babies born at New England Aqaurium 00:41

BOSTON - It took almost 15 years, but the New England Aquarium is finally raising baby seadragons after a "rare mating success."

The aquarium has been trying to breed the delicate creatures since 2008 without success because the process is very complicated. 

"Seadragons have an elaborate vertical mating ritual, swimming side-by-side as the female transfers her eggs to the male's tail to fertilize and carry them," said Jeremy Brodt, the aquarium's manager of permanent galleries. "The amount of daylight, water temperature, nutrition, and tank size must be just right for the animals to be successful, and even then, the eggs may still be dropped or end up unfertilized."

Success was finally realized last May, when staff spotted a male weedy seadragon carrying eggs. They hatched eight weeks later, and 20 baby seadragons were born.

Juvenile seadragons Vanessa Kahn/New England Aquarium

"All the stars aligned, and it just happened," Brodt said.

The babies have grown from 2 centimeters to 6 inches long in the past nine months. The aquarium hopes they can join the adults in the exhibit tank by this summer, and may send some to other aquariums to help breeding efforts. 

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