Davy Jones Locker instructor Dani has been lucky enough to obeserve and photograph sea snakes while diving. In her latest article for the DJL blog she writes about theses elusive creatures and their habitat.
One of the most fascinating subjects of the underwater world is the sea snake. They are known for the elegant way they swim through the water and hide in the coral. However divers don’t often get to see these fantastic creatures. Unfortunately they have a slightly shy disposition and aren’t often seen swimming in the open, but when they do it gives us the perfect opportunity to observe them in their natural surroundings. I was lucky enough recently to capture some shots of one underwater. Like all snakes, coral reef sea snakes have a bit of stigma about them, but reassuringly enough they (like many other underwater creatures) don’t deserve this stigma.
Here are some of the more interesting facts about sea snakes
• Most Hydrophiinae are completely aquatic. There are a number of adaptations to their environment that have occured over time as they have evolved. One of the most noticeable adaptations is their tail which is similar to a paddle and enhances their ability to swim.
• Since it is easier for a snake’s tongue to utilise its’ smelling function under water, the process is shorter than that of snakes found on land. The forked tips of the snakes tongue are the only parts which stick out from its mouth.
• Like other land animals that have adapted to life in a marine environment, sea snakes ingest a larger amount of salt than snake species found on land. This occurs through their diet and also if they accidently swallow seawater. As a result they had to evolve a more effective means of regulating the salt concentration of their blood.
• Despite having evolved to live in an ocean habitat, most sea snakes prefer to be near land in shallower water. You can find them around islands in sheltered waters and also in estuaries.
• They feed on small fish and occasionally young octopodes
• Like their relatives in the Elapidae family, the majority of the Hydrophiinae species have extremely toxic venom. However, when bites occur, venom injection is rare, so envenomation symptoms usually seem nonexistent or trivial
So there you have it guys. I hope you all get a chance to spot one of these magical creatures in their natural environment some day. Just remember the more you dive the higher your chances are!
Safe diving 🙂