Ruby Seadragons filmed in the wild for first time

This footage was captured by researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego and the Western Australian Museum during an expedition to the Recherche Archipelago in April 2016. Before witnessing the fish in the wild, researchers were unsure if the ruby seadragon specimens in museums had lost their appendages over time while in collection.

Now, for the first time, the mysterious creature has been captured on camera and marine biologists will no longer be forced to use drawings when they want to describe the creature.

Before the Scripps team identified this new species, one ruby seadragon specimen was held in a museum for almost a century.

'It was really quite an unbelievable moment when we discovered that the ruby seadragon lacks appendages, ' said Josefin Stiller, Scripps graduate student and coauthor of the paper.

The team used a small, remotely operated vehicle to make a sequence of dives down to 55-metres deep.

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The researchers believe the ruby seadragon lost its appendages through evolution and that its red colour acts as a camouflage in the deeper dimly lit waters where it lives. But even just as a specimen, pictured at the top, it was so remarkable that we included it in our round-up of 2015's new creatures: Top 10 new species include a weird array of wonders.

The ruby seadragon is only the third kind of seadragon ever recorded, the other being the instantly recognisable leafy seadragon, which has a green and orange hue. Did it really lack those characteristic camouflage appendages, or had they merely broken off from the washed-up specimens?

"It was really quite an fantastic moment when we discovered that the ruby seadragon lacks appendages". "It never occurred to me that a seadragon could lack appendages because they are characterised by their handsome camouflage leaves".

This fortunate run, all undertaken during a single day, revealed some never before known details about the lives of ruby seadragons. The creatures that dwell in the deep are so outrageously unusual compared to us, and majority remain unknown. The fish's habitat lacks kelp and seagrass, but instead is dominated by sponges, once considered an undesirable habitat for seadragons. Its relatives, seahorses and pipefish, have such grasping tails, which allow the animals to hold onto vegetation in strong currents. Rouse added that its red color allows it to appear inconspicuous; in the deep waters where it lives, red light can not penetrate and thus they appear dark.

"There are so many discoveries still awaiting us in southern Australia", says Nerida Wilson of the Western Australian Museum and coauthor of the study. It also features a prehensile, or curled, tail similar to that of its seahorse and pipefish relatives. "Western Australia has such a diverse range of habitats, and each one is deserving of attention".

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