TAMPA -- While there may not be many things more magical than a dragon, the Florida Aquarium did something perhaps a little more magical.

The staff made specialized prosthetics for dragons.

Just, in this case, seadragons.


Leafy seadragons "are some of the most spectacular animals you'll get to meet," said Eric Hovland, associate curator at the Florida Aquarium.

Hovland says seadragons are accustomed to water temperatures around 50 to 60 degrees. Part of their care is making sure the creatures can get access to food since they need to eat all day long.

Part of the problem was the little dragons weren't able to get to their food properly.

"As they were starting to grow from just a few centimeters to a little larger, we noticed they were having a little trouble," Hovland said. "They were getting a little heavy in the rear, and having a harder time getting their heads down in the feeding position."

With X-rays, aquarium staff realized that their swim bladders were not developing properly and their buoyancy was off.

Avi Fustukjian, the aquarium veterinarian, handcrafted the specialized prosthetic devices to keep the three little leafy seadragons alive.

"Without that, we had to step in and make a prosthetic swim bladder, or these little flotation devices to help out those little dragons as they grow," Hovland said. "And boy, what a difference it made!"

For more on the seadragons, check out the Florida Aquarium website.

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