Every two years on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia a festival celebrating the Leafy Sea Dragon takes place. Experiencing the sight of these delicate creatures left me with rhythms and the words washing around in my head until I put them on the page. This did not satisfy so I started painting and now I am illustrating a picture book to present the story and the sight of the Leafy Sea Dragon. You could say these underwater dancers made an impression on me!
Nature’s Single Dad’s
THE LEAFY SEA DRAGON
Gracefully swaying without need for speed
Are creatures of beauty, disguised as seaweed.
Up to twelve inches long from tail to snout
These delicate creatures just drift about.
They carry, as they move like galleons in sail,
Silk-like appendages, leafy and pale
On back spines, projecting as masts on a ship
Sailing the oceans, they rise and they dip,
To the rhythm of moon tides; full or neap,
They travel the seas; these Dragons of the Deep.
Through weed-covered reefs and meadows of sea grass
There’s neither a neigh nor a moo as they pass.
They resemble sea horses in flowing silk gowns
Drifting on rhythms, dancing up and then down.
They slow dance through the water just moving around
No fire, no flames from these dragons; not a sound.
The mother will lay two hundred eggs on Dad’s patch
Of soft sponge, where safely they’ll hatch.
The sun flashes golden as she drifts on by,
While in the shadow on his tail, his offspring lie.
This single Dad of the deep tends a new generation,
Of Leafy Sea Dragon eggs; a fascinating creation.
Less than one inch when first hatched from the eggs
As newly formed babies; ready for life without legs.
They drift as if they feed, gaining the silky covered bone
To a length of twelve inches by the time they’re full grown.
The cycles of the moon dictate the rhythms and motion
Of this Leafy Sea Dragon in the great Southern Ocean.
The Leafy Sea Dragon is just one of Natures' Single Dads worthy of a mention for the survival of the species.