Sea Snakes - Fact Sheet
Sea snakes
Fact sheet
Up to 2m
With streamlined, boat-shaped bodies
and flattened, paddle-like tails, sea
snakes are well adapted to marine life
and helpless on land. To prevent
water entering lungs, valves close the
nostrils while submerged. This is
typically for about 30 minutes,
although some can remain
underwater for up to 2 hours. A
special gland under the tongue
concentrates and excretes excess
Hydrophis major. Image: Blanche Danastas
Sea snakes prefer the warmer,
shallower parts of the Indian and west
Pacific Oceans and are found in a
variety of habitats from mangroves,
estuaries and reefs to the open
ocean. They eat fish and some will
also feed on fish eggs, molluscs and
Sea snakes are often seen from the
Denham jetty in Shark Bay.
Female sea snakes give birth to live
young at sea.
Sea kraits are another group of
snakes that live in the sea but lay
eggs on land.
World Heritage
Aipysurus pooleorum. Image: Blanche Danastas
At least 22 species of sea snake have
been recorded in Western Australia.
The three most common in Shark Bay
are the olive-headed sea snake
(Hydrophis major), elegant sea snake
(H. elegans); and Shark Bay sea
snake (Aipysurus pooleorum), which
is unique to the region. Less common
is the turtle-headed sea snake
(Emydocephalus annulatus).
While many WA sea snakes are common, Shark Bay also hosts the
critically endangered leaf-scaled sea snake (Aipysurus foliosquama)
and short-nosed sea snake (A. apraefrontalis).
Aipysurus pooleorum.
Hydrophis major. Image: Blanche Danastas
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