Monday, February 16, 2009

Sea Snakes

Sea Snakes are some of the many land animals that have adapted to live in the ocean. They seem completely out of place, yet these unusual marine reptiles are perfectly adapted for life below the waves. I'm sure it is hard to picture a snake under water, so I posted the video below of a sea snake gliding across a reef. It seems just as natural swimming underwater as it would slithering on dry land.

There are over 60 different species of sea snakes found in tropical seas throughout the world. Most are brightly colored, and nearly all sea snakes have a flattened tail that works as a paddle. Unlike their terrestrial cousins, many species of sea snakes lack the ability to crawl on land. Others are known to spend a good amount of time out of the water. Sea snakes may live underwater for most of their lives, but they still breathe air like all other reptiles.

The forked tongue of a sea snake is specially adapted to allow them to smell underwater. They cruise along coral reefs hunting fish, eels, shrimp, or even fish eggs depending on the species.

Most sea snakes are highly venomous and pack deadly poison, but few are known to be aggressive towards humans. Attacks are not very frequent, and they rarely deliver much poison when they strike. When sea snakes are handled by humans or caught on land, they can be very dangerous. As with most sea creatures, it is best to look but don't touch.


Anonymous said...

Whoa, I thought I was safe from snakes in the water. I would hate to run into a sea snake in the ocean. At least they are mostly bright colors so they are easy to spot and swim away from.

Unknown said...

I snorkel in front of my house in the Philippines! I have seen two species of sea snake; the black banded; and another that was dark green to gray with a very fat body compared to the other! It was hard to see due to it's natural coloring that qualified to me as "camouflage!"
Though non-agressive in nature, I'd hate to be directly over one that was surfacing for air! It is my only fear regarding them!
On the other hand, Jelly fish are a potential hazard every time I enter the sea!

Anonymous said...

JOEL. I just left the PI last week and a black banded came right at me and got about two feet away as i jumped onto the raft. Scared me a good one! Be safe man!

axentrica said...

is yellow bellied snake poisonous?

T said...

We just learned about Sea Snakes in our Apologia Zoology2 Swimming Creatures course. The good news (for me) is that Sea Snakes are not in N. American coastal areas. They also do not usually use their venom when biting humans, unless they are dead! After death the venomous snake will bite and release venom because its bite reflex stays active for quite some time, even if the head is cut off!