Kangaroo Island, off West Australia, is one of the very few habitats of the Leafy Seadragon. Ghostnets, discarded fishing nets that drift in the open water, entangle and trap many marine organisms.

Octopus meets Leafy Seadragon off Kangaroo Island’s coast, cast for drama school. Phycodurus Eques gently lowers its head, fan wave, a drift of seaweed camouflage. Octopus tips his hat, again, again. Presents plump spawn from purple magician’s chapeau. Trojan daddy opens his bellybutton, and they stream: gentle baby leaves, swell into salt, into the open. An O of snout, a suck, a tiny crustacean, gift-wrapped neon microfilament, whooshes down each gullet. Unity. Octopus bobs. Dark horse’s tears mingle in the stream. Eight tentacles glide into ball gown bauble, a mass stallion procession gallops backward through Circus Maximus, drag ripples guts, saws a salad. Other baby dragons watch, dream of danger, thumbless creatures of the deep, strangling tender. Tips touch, kiss under drift: Japanese plastic bag, suntan lotion bottle cap, death spiral into thong.

Days later, shoe beaches on the sand: size

six leviathan, web of small corpses bound by fishing line chews pink foam. Octopus beaks chicken-like sate, aged seaweed mourns in unshod shallows. Tragedy radiates. The seagulls applaud. The nets drift close, hungry ancient ghosts.