Deep Sea Snakes
are marine reptiles. They are mainly found
in tropical waters, from the eastern coast of South Africa,
to Panama. In Australia they occur off the west coast as far
south as Pt Hedland, right across the top end, and all the
way down the east coast.
are around 55 species of sea snake found
in the world, around 22 of these are found in Western Australian
snakes have evolved from the earth bound elapids
and as such are generally venomous and have hollow fixed front
fangs. As they have adapted to life in the water they have
developed paddle tails and a keel which keeps them stable
in the water but makes it very difficult for them to move
on land. They shed their skin every two to six weeks. This
process helps them to get rid of barnacles and other sea parasites
which may attach to them.
breathe air and have nostril valves which close under
water. They excrete salt from a gland in the mouth
under the tongue. They bear live young in the water after
a gestation period of from four to eleven months. The males
have two penises named hemipenes, however, only one is used
at each mating. The young are independent from the time of
is a popular misconception that sea snakes
have tiny mouths and are, therefore, not dangerous to man.
This is not true; a sea snake can open its
mouth to swallow a fish two to three times bigger than the
diameter of its neck. They are able to dislocate their jaw
in the same way that land based snakes do. It is true however,
that the primary purpose of venom in sea snakes is
to subdue prey, rather than for defense. Because of this most
bites delivered to humans are blanks, that is, although they
bite, often they do not release venom.
snakes are extremely placid creatures and there has
never been a recorded human death due to a sea snake bite
recorded in Australia, although most species are highly venomous.
They do become more aggressive during the mating season which
is during the winter months, and they are extremely curious.
They have been known to bite at scuba divers and can fasten
onto a flipper. Most bites recorded are to fishermen handling
fishing nets which have captured sea snakes as by-catch.
It should never be forgotten that sea snakes are venomous
and should always be handled with extreme care. Where ever
possible they should be left untouched until an experienced
snake handler is called to move them.
non-venomous sea snakes found off the west coast
is the turtle headed (emydocephalus annulatus) which eats
fish eggs. They have adapted their mouths to form a scraping
plate, their mouths are now fused and they have lost the ability
to produce venom. Some other species are either only mildly
venomous or not venomous.
snakes mainly inhabit the shallow waters around our shores
and are most likely to be found on land following violent
sea storms, or as a result of illness or injury.
Most sea snakes eat fish,
fish eggs and eels, although the yellow bellied sea snake
Location or Region Found
are five major groups of sea snake found
in the world. The two major groups are the Hydrophiidae and
the Laticaudidae. Hydrophiidae are the true sea snakes
and the only species found breeding in Australian waters.
The Laticaudidae are the sea kraits. Two
of this family is found in Australia's northern most waters
between Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia.
Kind of sea snakes have been arranged here
in alphabetical order by scientific name.
||Horned Sea Snake
||Stagger-banded Sea Snake
||Olive Sea Snake
||Stokes' Sea Snake
||Spectacled Sea Snake
||Olive-headed Sea Snake
||Beaked Sea Snake
||Elegant Sea Snake
||Yellow-lipped sea snake
||Yellow-bellied Sea Snake