A few months back, we shared five interesting facts about sea dragons. Recently, I met up with sea dragon curator Jaime Sanchez Camara and aquarist Jane Ong. This time, I went behind the scenes to witness how they take care of these amazing marine creatures. To my surprise, these dragons of the sea lead a cushier life than I can ever hope for.
Shrimps and room service
In the wild, sea dragons thrive on a diet of mysids (small, shrimp-like creatures). Here at the S.E.A. Aquarium, the sea dragons continue to enjoy their prawn platter but in the frozen form. “With live mysids, we may face shortage and storage problems, as well as diseases, hence we use frozen mysids instead,” explained Jaime.
The sea dragons are hand fed three times a day and each consumes about 20 mysids per meal. To keep them in the pink of health, they are given a vitamin boost everyday in the afternoon. Instead of soaking the thawed mysids in water, they are soaked in a vitamin solution so that the sea dragons get these nutrients with every mouthful they chow down. Put this in the human perspective, it is like being hand fed perfectly diced, bite-size oranges and strawberries. Talk about the good life.
Room make up service
Even at five-star hotels, rooms are made up only once a day. Standard procedure. But for our sea dragons, their room (or enclosure) gets made up twice a day, every day. This is because our sea royalty are very sensitive to parasites and bacterial infections.
Apart from cleaning the viewing panel and walls, the aquarist uses a special vacuum cleaner to remove visible debris such as fecal matter and uneaten food.
After the vacuuming comes the siphoning. She then gives the sand bed a thorough clean by siphoning off debris hidden within so as to minimise risks of parasites and bacterial infestation.
Nightly turndown service
Instead of turning down the bed linen in preparation for a good night’s sleep, here at the sea dragon enclosure, the lights are gradually turned down and turned off. That’s because sudden changes in light can send these “sensitive new age dragons” into distress, causing them to swallow air from the surface and bite the dust.
Every night, the lights are turned off one at a time and the night light is connected to a special generator such that in the rare event of a blackout, the night light remains on for a sufficient period of time until things are back on track.
Well, it seems if you’re born a dragon, be it on land or in the sea, you are destined for a good life. But one thing is for sure, their numbers are, unfortunately, dwindling in the wild. So come by the aquarium to witness their regal beauty and elegance if you haven’t.