Reporting by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, Illinois, USA
To answer the first question, yes, sea dragons do exist. The living sea dragons are not the reptiles, but fish. The sea dragons are the member of the same fish family as the seahorses. They are vulnerable to changing ocean conditions, predators, and even storms can wash them out to shore. Breeding programs in aquaria have not been successful, butt he Melbourne Aquarium have succeeded in hatching about 20 baby sea dragons in August 2016. You can read the full report here:
‘Near threatened’ baby weedy sea dragons make debut at Melbourne Aquarium
Posted August 04, 2016 15:12:44 The newest attractions at the Melbourne Aquarium are so adept at hiding themselves, even the most eagle-eyed visitor might have trouble spotting them. About 20 baby weedy sea dragons, also known as dragon fry, have made their public debut after a successful but complicated breeding program.
As you can see on the pictures the sea dragons have a number of leaf-looking attachment to their bodies to make the better camouflaged. Because the sea dragons a re slow swimmers, and because they can’t grab onto vegetation on the sea floor, camouflage is their best protector against predators. In the report cited above there is a picture of the male sea dragon carrying the pink eggs under his tail. Similarly to sea horses, it’s the male that cares for the sea dragon eggs.
Sea dragons at Beachfront Pottery
The first time I saw sea dragons was at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago where my daughter and I visited a sea horse and sea dragon special exhibit. It was like a treasure hunt just to be able to find the sea dragons in the water tanks; they were camouflaged among the seaweed in the tanks. I was impressed by this ability to be hidden, and I made several ceramic pieces inspired by sea dragons. The only surviving piece is a rectangular tile where I made seven oval reliefs into a wet sheet of clay. I glazed and glaze fired this piece several times. I then placed glazed ceramic pearls on the tile surface, and glaze fired it again.
What resulted is a very complex surface colors, some of the glazes got mixed by the repeated firings, some glazes moved around and spread. The bright greenish-blue color of the pearls flowed to the base of the pearls forming a halo. It might be time to liven up the winter by making a few more sea dragon tiles, or even sculptures.