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Strange Colourful Creatures Wash Up On Australian Shores Following Record Rainfall

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Strange Colourful Creatures Wash Up On Australian Shores Following Record Rainfall

Experts have been left baffled by dozens of odd and colourful sea creatures left washed up on multiple Australian beaches.

The stranded seadragons have been found at various beaches in New South Wales, in Cronulla, Malabar and the Central Coast.

Circulated images of the increased number of dead marine fish follow weeks of record rainfall.

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Seadragons have been found washed up on the shores of Australian beaches after a period of heavy rainfall. Credit: Alamy
Seadragons have been found washed up on the shores of Australian beaches after a period of heavy rainfall. Credit: Alamy

Experts have since expressed their concern and theories as to why the amount of wash-ups has increased to ten times the norm.

Beachcomer Betty Ratcliffe told The Sydney Morning Herald she discovered seven seadragons in the space of a week.

She said: "The first one I found had recently died; it was so vibrant, with orange, yellow and purple. Over the next couple of days I kept finding more and more.”

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Over the past two weeks, over 20 seadragons have been found across beaches in Sydney according to professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney, Dr David Booth.

While it is illegal to handle seadragon bodies, those who have discovered the beached marine animals have reported their findings to Dr Booth.

The professor predicts that there are likely over 50 of the animals because of many not having yet been reported.

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He said: "I’ve only ever seen one washed up. It was like, ‘My god, what’s happening?' I reckon it’s about 10 times the normal rate of wash-ups."

Dr Booth explained how weedy seadragons are 'tough little devils' in their ability to live around 10 metres below the surface as 'homebodies' who cling to kelp in strong currents, straying from their patch no further than 20 to 50 metres in their whole lifetime.

Dr Booth believes the number of wash-ups of seadragons has increased as a 'result of some combination of the shocking weather, pollutants being washed into the ocean and big surf'.

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The professor particularly noted the pollutants which have been churned up so much so that storms have affected more than just the usual top three metres of the water.

While the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species categorised weedy seadragons to no longer be 'near threatened' but of 'least concern' in 2017, there has been a reduction in sightings of the sea creatures in recent years.

"At Kurnell, Botany Bay, there might’ve been seven to eight you’d see in a dive; now there’s two to three," Dr Booth reflected.

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Climate change also poses a threat to the seadragons' natural kelp habitats.

Dr Booth stressed the importance of keeping count of washed up seadragons, particularly as this 'sort of storm is going to be more and more prevalent'.

If you see an animal in distress and/or in need of help, contact the RSPCA's 24-hour animal cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 or visit their website for further advice 

Featured Image Credit: Betty Ratcliffe/Facebook

Topics: News, Australia, Animals

Poppy Bilderbeck
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