Unusual marine animals in Australia

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leafy sea dragon ©bdearth/Flickr

When speaking or writing about Australia and its animals, we enter a fascinating territory, populated with truly unique creatures. We all know the story of how Australia was discovered and how European settlers destroyed some of its unique ecosystems in their attempt to introduce European species. Yet, kangaroos, koalas or wombats are still to be found in Australia, and they even became major touristic attractions. But apart form these, there are also plenty of unusual marine animals in Australia, less known to travelers, yet equally fascinating. Here are some of them:

Christmas Tree Worm

What a jolly name for this underwater worm. The researchers who discovered this worm in the Great Barrier Reef thought that it resembles a Christmas Tree. That was quite a nice analogy, considering that the worms can also have many colors, much like the Christmas lights. However, you should know that the underwater ‘branches’ serve rather vital purposes, like feeding and respiration.

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Christmas Tree Worm ©Tim Sheerman-Chase/Flickr

Lizard Island Octopus

The Great Barrier Reef is indeed a great place. The reefs, or, more exactly, the reefs around Lizard Island, are home to an endemic species of octopus, named the Lizard Island Octopus. The most outstanding feature of this animal is its design, which seems to be inspired from some Jules Verne novel (or this is how I imagine it).

Platypus

The Platypus is probably the best known form the species described here, but this doesn’t make him less of an unusual animal. There are numerous characteristics that make this Australian animal like no other: it is partially aquatic, partially terrestrial, it has the beak of a duck and the tail of a beaver; and, most importantly, it is considered a mammal despite the fact that it lays eggs.

Australian wildlife

platypus ©dnatheist/Flickr

Some evolutionary missing link? Possibly, however one important thing to remember is that this animal is venomous, so keep a safe distance.

Leafy Sea-dragon

The Sea Dragon sounds like a very dangerous animal, but in reality it represents the Australian relative of the cute and highly endangered sea horse. But although they are related, these animals couldn’t look more different.

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leafy sea dragon by bdearth/Flickr

The ‘leafy’ part in the animal’s name explains everything: this animal is so similar to a plant, that one can hardly tell. The leafy sea dragon is not only a classic example of mimetic adaptation (a living organism imitating another organism with the purpose of camouflage or attracting prey) but also a very interesting, near-threaten species, which is why it’s so important to protect it.

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