General Reading Test 3.3


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 29-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.


Seadragon Search



In appearance, they are unmistakably dragons, but in other ways these delicate creatures of the sea bear little resemblance to their fierce, mythical namesake. They are only 45 cm long, fragile, harmless and vulnerable. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Belonging to the same family as seahorses, seadragons come in two different species: ‘weedy’ (resembling blades of brown seaweed) and the more showy and more endangered ‘leafy’ (looking like aquatic leaves). They are found only in coastal southern Australian waters and because they resemble swaying seaweed can be difficult to find in their natural habitat.


Though well camouflaged, their brilliant colours are visible in sun-dappled waters. Both species inhabit rocky reefs, seaweed beds and seagrass meadows colonized by seaweed. They are most often seen in shallow coastal waters. Camouflage is their only protection. Otherwise, sea dragons are poorly equipped for fleeing from pursuers. Their outer skin is composed of solid bony plates, which limit mobility. The only way they can propel themselves along is through rapidly oscillating their ventral and dorsal fins. Like seahorses, they possess an internal air bladder, used for vertical motion. With little effort, they can rise or settle to another depth simply by changing the air volume within the bladder. Because they blend easily with the background, sea dragons are agile enough to hunt down tiny shrimps, their main quarry.


Perhaps, the most extraordinary thing about sea dragons is that it is actually the male of the species which carries the young. During mating, the female lays 100-250 eggs onto the underside of the male’s tail, where they are attached and fertilized. [Crack IELTS with Rob] After a period of about four to six weeks from conception the male gives birth to miniature juvenile versions of itself. As soon as a baby sea dragon leaves the safety of its father’s tail, it is independent and receives no further help from its parents.


There is increasing concern about the future of these vulnerable and fragile creatures. Both sea dragons and their close relatives, sea horses, are threatened globally by habitat destruction. The inshore areas of seagrass they inhabit are threatened by pollution and excessive fertilizer runoff. Each year, an estimated 20 million seahorses ( but not sea dragons) are taken for traditional Asian medicines. The international trade in seahorses involves more than 30 countries and is growing. Fortunately, sea dragons are currently not used for the medicine trade; however they have been targeted by the aquarium fish trade. Unscrupulous ‘collectors’ have denuded the more accessible sea grass areas of this amazing creature.


Keeping live sea dragons is extremely difficult and collectors often target males with eggs, hatching out and selling the young. Removing breeding animals from the wild populations may have an impact on local populations of sea dragons. To date, no successful closed cycle captive breeding program has occurred. [Crack IELTS with Rob] There has not yet been a generation of captive sea dragons which has bred. Economically and environmentally it makes sense to limit collection and export of this species until more is known about them. Because sea dragons require live food and an exact water temperature, most die quickly in captivity. It is illegal to take or export them without a permit. Concerned by the rapidly decreasing numbers of the sea dragon, the department of fisheries declared it a totally protected species in 1991.


It is for these reasons that Dragon search has been initiated. The community based monitoring programs involve nearly 20 organizations around Australia. The project encourages members of the community to provide information on sea dragon sightings. Recreational divers and snorkelers are invited to record sightings of sea dragons in their dive logs and to transfer relevant information to Dragon search sighting sheets. Likewise, anyone who visits the beach and spots either live sea dragons in water or their remains washed up on shore may also participate. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The information submitted is entered into a confidential database and is used to encourage the protection of these wonderful creatures and to promote the establishment of marine reserves. It is hoped that increased awareness and involvement of local communities will help prevent poaching of sea dragons and encourage the protection of both species and their habitat.


Questions 29 - 34

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3?

In boxes 29-34 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE                   if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE                 if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN         if there is no information on this


  • 29.  Seadragons are found all around the Australian coast.

  • 30.  Weedy seadragons are more common than leafy seadragons.

  • 31.  Body armour gives seadragons effective protection from predators.

  • 32.  The air bladder enables seadragons to move with great speed.

  • 33.  Eggs are laid by the male seadragon.

  • 34.  The male and female stay together to look after the eggs.


Questions 35 - 39

Choose the correct letter ABC, or D.

Write the correct letter, A-D, in boxes 35-39, on your answer sheet.

35. Which of the following is NOT a threat to the survival of seadragons?

  • habitat destruction
  • difficulty of breeding in captivity
  • use in Chinese medicine
  • the aquarium trade


36. Seadragons do NOT do well in captivity because

  • they require warm water.
  • they are difficult to catch without injury.
  • they die quickly when stressed.
  • they only eat live food.


37. Breeding of captive seadragons has been

  • against the law.
  • unsuccessful.
  • limited.
  • a growing industry.


38. It is illegal to

  • capture leafy seadragons.
  • trade in seadragons.
  • keep seadragons in aquariums.
  • export seadragons.


39. One purpose of Dragon Search is

  • to capture live seadragons.
  • to help divers locate seadragons.
  • to move seadragons to safer areas.
  • to increase public awareness of seadragons.

Question 40

Answer the question below.

Choosing NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from Passage 3.

Write the correct answer in box 40, on your answer sheet.


  • 40. What can public involvement in Dragon Search help to stop? 



Result: / Exit

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