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Multi-celled animals (Metazoa)


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Sea snakes

Photos of marine reptiles



Sea snakes
(Laticaudinae and Hydrophiinae)




Characteristics of marine snakes

There are about 50 species of sea snakes. Sea snakes are very venomous, bur not very aggressive. An average sized snake can produce 10-15 milligrams of venom. The fatal dose for humans is 1.5 milligrams! Illustration shows the hollow teeth of he sea snake.

Sea snake with hollow teeth filled with venom

Sea snakes can grow to over 2 meter length. They have a small blunt head, scales and a flattened tail.

Ecology and range of marine snakes

Sea snakes of the family Hydrophidae range through the tropical Indo-Pacific area. They prefer coastal reefs. There is also a pelagic sea snake (Pelamis platurus) that lives in open sea, sometimes hundreds of kilometer from the nearest land!

Behavior of marine snakes

Sea snakes feed mainly on fishes. Some of them are active hunters that probe crevices and holes for prey. Sea snakes are airbreathers and must periodically swim to the surface to gulp air. Most sea snakes are viviparous (young are born fully developed). Some sea snakes like the banded sea krait come ashore to lay eggs.

Banded sea krait

Sea snakes and snake eels are frequently confused. One species (Myrichthys colubrinus) has a color pattern very similar to the banded sea krait (Laticauda colubrina). The eel probably mimics the snake to gain some protection from predators (Batesian mimicry). Click here and compare them from photos.

Photos of sea snakes and marine turtles (photo collection) click for enlargement

Gelblippen Seeschlange (Laticauda colubrina)

Banded sea krait (Laticauda colubrina)

Gelblippen Seeschlange (Laticauda colubrina)

Banded sea krait (Laticauda colubrina)

Seeschlange (Hydrophis)

sea snake (Enhydrina schistosa)

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