Sea Snakes

Common Name: Sea Snakes

Type: Reptile

Family: Hydrophiinae

Range: Hydrophiinae family sea snakes are mostly confined to the warm tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. And few species found into Oceanic also. Sea snakes do not occur in the Atlantic Ocean and Red sea. These can be found in several parts of Costa Rica including Riu Guanacaste. Sea Snakes live in the waters off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica (not along the beaches).

Size: The sea snakes vary in length, with the smallest adults being 50 cm (20 inches) long, to the largest, which may exceed 3m (9.8 ft.). Their eyes are relatively small with a round pupil.

Diet: Sea snakes feed mainly on fishes and fish eggs or eels.

Average life span: Average life span is not known.

Habitat: Sea Snakes are found in shallow or coastal water area. Some species may venture on land, although most sea snakes are helpless if washed ashore. Most sea snakes prefer to stay in shallow waters near land, around islands, and especially sheltered waters and near estuaries. Some sea snakes inhabit mangrove swamps and similar brackish water habitats.

Breeding/Reproduction: Sea snakes can be oviparous (egg birth) or ovoviviparous (egg live birth), depending on the species. In ovoviviparous reproduction, the internally fertilized eggs of the female are retained in her body. The embryos soon shed their membrane and develop in the mother’s uterus.

Sea snakes or the Hydrophiinae are packs of venomous snake which adapts a fully aquatic nature and mostly immovable when in land. They belong to the Elapidae family under the order of Squamata. Sea snake is mostly endemic in temperate and tropical waters of Indian Ocean to the western part of the Pacific Ocean. But some are also found in Oceania. In Costa Rica alone, their waters are inhabited by these types of snakes. Usually they are seen in great numbers in Tamarindo as well as in Riu Guanacaste.

These species usually have tails that looks like a paddle which aids them in coping with aquatic life. They body is compressed sideways that makes them look like an eel. They do not have gills so mostly they need to resurface above water for them to breathe. Their nostrils are located the at the back of the head near the tiny eyes. Most sea snake has an average measurement of almost 150 centimetres in length. Unlike the land snakes these sea snakes doesn’t have ventral scales so they cannot move in land. One species of sea snake which is the Laticauda is the only species that have ventral scale so they can spend time in the land as well as in the water. This snake has adopted their body to regulate the salinity of the water in their environment.

Sea snakes usually fancy the shoal water near land or islands as well as estuaries and mangrove. They are abundened in the waters of Costa Rica. They are considered as both nocturnal and diurnal species which means they are both active during the day and also during night. Their main diet includes fish and eels. They will bite their prey and release venom to control their prey. Other species also includes molluscs, crustaceans like prawns as well as fish larvae in their sustenance. These sea snakes are mostly ovoviviparous which means they can produce eggs and it will retain in the mother’s body until it will be hatched. But the Laticauda are the only exception because they are oviparous. They will lay their eggs on land and wait for it to hatch.

Sea snakes are mostly deemed venomous but they are usually noted for being not aggressive and have a mild docile temper. If not provoked, these creatures will not bite. But still humans should be cautious in handling sea snakes since most of them are venomous. When being bitten, early symptoms to humans are mostly headache, being thirsty and feeling tongue are swollen as well as vomiting and sweating. If no medical attention immediately one could lead to paralysis as well as cardiac arrest and death.

International Union for Conservation of Nature, (IUCN) listed some species of sea snakes are deemed vulnerable and endangered.

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