Facial-recognition project finds oldest known weedy sea dragon in Tasmania

weedy sea dragon

At 16 years plus, Speedy is the oldest known sea dragon.

Speedy lives in Waubs Bay near Bicheno, Tasmania and is one of the four sea dragons residing at Waubs Bay that scientists believe are the longest-lived sea dragons on record in Australia.

SeaDragonSearch is an initiative by scientists in Western Australia using facial recognition technology to identify and track sea dragons through photographs submitted by recreational divers. Out of the 3,000 weedy sea dragons being tracked, Speedy is the oldest.

Sea dragons are found only in the lower half of Australia and there are three species — leafy, weedy and ruby. While sea dragons on average are thought to live for eight years, Speedy has shown that sea dragons can live to at least 16 years old, based on a local diver’s photographs.

Current research suggests that Tasmania’s sea dragons live much longer than first thought, which may be related to the cooler water temperatures they experience. It is thought Tasmanian sea dragons are also much larger than their mainland counterparts.

Learn more about Speedy and the SeaDragonSearch project here.