A deadly yellow-bellied sea snake has been spotted in California. Although the deadly snake typically lives its entire life in the ocean, it has now been spotted at least twice last week in the area of an extremely popular Los Angeles beach.
The venomous yellow-bellied sea snake was seen in Oxnard, California, which is just north of Malibu beach in Los Angeles, MSN reports. Environmental experts believe that rising temperatures in the ocean and the El Nino cyclical weather front currently impacting the Pacific Ocean, drove the snake to the shore.
— TIME.com (@TIME) October 17, 2015
According to the environmental group, Heal the Bay, the yellow-bellied sea snake has not been spotted in California since a 1980 El Niño period. Once the environmental group posted information and photos about the deadly venomous snake on its Facebook page, more sightings of the reptile was shared by local residents, USA Today reports.
Heal the Bay has cautioned people not to “interact” with the sea snake if they spot one, but instead encouraged residents to take a photo of the reptile and immediately report any sightings in the state to the iNaturalist and HerpMapper websites.
Pelamis platura, the scientific name for the sea snake spotted in California, most commonly inhabits warm waters. It is not known if the two confirmed spottings of the deadly venomous snake were sightings of the same or different reptiles.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife staffers were able to capture the yellow-bellied snake from the site of the second spotting. It reportedly died shortly after being transported to the agency’s nearby office.
— US Fish and Wildlife (@USFWS) October 18, 2015
“The species is entirely aquatic. Seeing a yellow-bellied sea snake wash ashore indicates that the animal is most likely ill or injured,” Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Herpetology Curator, Greg Pauly, said.
The reptile is a species of sea snake found in tropical oceanic waters around the world, excluding the Atlantic Ocean. It is the only member of the genus Pelamis. The pelagic sea snake is found in tropical oceanic water all around the world, except in the Atlantic Ocean. The yellow-bellied sea snake is the only member of the genus Pelamis.
The body of the snake is compressed, its posterior is less than half the diameter of the neck. The body of the yellow-bellied sea snake has juxtaposed scales which are subquadrangular in shape. The scales are typically formed into 23 to 47 rows around the thickest part of its body. The deadly snakes ventral scales number between 264 to 406, and are both very small and distinct. The scales are divided by a longitudinal groove.
The yellow-bellied sea snake also has a narrow head with an elongated snout. Colors of the snake vary, but typically, the reptile boasts a bicolored black and yellow or brown and yellow pattern. Male sea snakes of this variety commonly measures up to 28 inches long. Female snakes often reach lengths of 35 inches long.
The yellow-bellied venomous snake breeds in warm waters. They are ovoviviparous and have a gestation period of approximately six months. Females often give birth to live snakes in shallow tidal pools, according to Wikipedia.
They are deadly snakes are known to be helpless when on land. They sometimes aggregate by the thousands on surface waters and use their neurotoxic venom to kill small fish. They garner all of their dietary needs from ocean waters, and can survive severe dehydration by stocking up water during the rainy season when fresh water is present on top of the heavier saltwater below.
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