SAN DIEGO — Weedy Seadragons are beginning to hatch at Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

A spokesperson for the center told FOX 5 that the tiny creatures started hatching on Sunday and continued through Thursday with a handful eggs out of roughly 70 successfully coming to life so far.

“This is huge for us. We’ve been working on this for decades,” said Associate Curator Leslee Matsushige who leads Birch Aquarium’s Seahorse and Seadragon Breeding Programs. “This is a very challenging yet exciting process. We’ve had some previous experience raising young seadragons, so we hope to be successful raising an even greater number of babies this year.”

The “baby weedies,” which are about 1 inch long and weigh less than 1 gram at birth, are a unique species of fish that are related to seahorses and pipefish, officials explained. They are expected to grow to be 13 to 15 inches long.

The center said the sea creatures are “fairly solitary” and are fully independent at birth.

newly hatched Weedy Seadragon
This close-up image shows a newly hatched Weedy Seadragon at Birch Aquarium. (Photo: Jordann Tomasek)

The “baby weedies” are being raised behind the scenes so aquarists can monitor and feed them a special diet. According to the center, Weedy Seadragons are notoriously picky eaters with their food of choice is tiny mysid shrimp.

“Seadragons are relatively new to human care with their first introductions in the ‘90s. In that short period of time, Birch Aquarium and our colleagues have been able to learn just a bit of their amazing life history, genetics and behaviors,” said Jenn Nero Moffatt, Senior Director of Animal Care, Science and Conservation. 

Weedy Seadragons, which are only found in waters on the southern coast of Australia, have delicate appendages that help them blend in with kelp and seagrass to avoid predators, the center explained.

With their intricate camouflage and unique coloring, oceanographers say seadragons are “wonderful ambassadors to promote a greater understanding of the rich diversity in our oceans.”

More information about the aquarium’s Seadragon Breeding Program can be found here.

Birch Aquarium, located at 2300 Expedition Way in Ja Jolla, is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.