A venomous sea snake was found in Southern California on December 12. The apparition of the yellow-bellied sea snake on the beach caused the fear for the locals but excited the scientists.
The snake was already dead when he was found on December 12. The snake belonged to the most widespread species of marine snakes in the world, called Pelamis platura. Despite the fact that their habitat is extremely large, the species tends to stay in the warm waters and is usually found south to the coast, close to Baja California, in Mexico.
This isn’t the first time that a snake belonging to this species has been found on a Californian beach this year. This raises questions for the scientists who study these marine snakes, making them think that they are trying to get out of their normal habitat.
Close to the tip of Baja this snake was seen only five times ever, of which the last two times were in 2015. The last time prior to this year someone saw yellow-bellied sea snake in California, in 1972, according to Greg Pauly, a herpetology assistant curator. He also said that the snake was only seen in this region when the temperatures of the Pacific Ocean were really high, during El Niño years (1997-1998).
This year’s snake migration could be because the sea temperatures increased a lot and thus caused the change of ocean currents and the movement of the snakes in the North of their habitat. This could be caused either by the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) or by the blob. POD refers to the fact that the temperatures of the Eastern Pacific are getting higher. The blob refers to some areas of the ocean, especially close to North America are warmer than usual, even during winter.
The problem is that the temperatures of the sea decreases a lot during winter in the western regions of the United States. That causes the yellow-bellied sea snakes to die either after getting sick or after not finding enough food and they are washed up on these beaches.
Pauly addressed the scares of the people regarding the venomous snake. He said that as long as people don’t touch the yellow-bellied sea snake, the snake won’t do any harm. Their venom is designed in order to kill small fish and even if bitten, a human’s life isn’t endangered. Also, their mouth and fangs can only bite small prey .So don’t worry that a venomous sea snake was found in Southern California. Scientists advise us to leave them alone if we encounter them and maybe even take a photo in order to let them know they’re there.
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