Highly venomous sea snakes on WC beaches

Rough sea conditions over the last week resulted in interesting things washing up on beaches. Among these, were two highly venomous sea snakes that washed up on Plettenberg Bay beaches.

Rough oceans bring harmful visitors to Plettenberg Bay

Two yellow-bellied sea snakes, most commonly found in tropical waters around the world, washed up on Plettenberg Bay beaches on the Western Cape’s Garden Route. Experts warned people to not get close to these snakes. While bites are uncommon, they can inject a highly venomous neurotoxin that can be deadly.

According to CapeNature’s senior field marine ranger Chanel Hauvette, local snake experts have since successfully rescued the two snakes. They are currently stabilising the snakes and nurturing them back to health in a local aquarium, as reported by Knysna-Plett Herald.

“Once sea conditions have improved and the snakes are in good condition to be released, we will take them out to sea where conditions are favourable and release them back into the wild.”

Chanel Hauvette, CapeNature senior field marine ranger

She added that it was very unusual to find these snakes along the Garden Route coast as they usually stay in warmer tropical waters. It is likely that the rough conditions took the snakes out of warmer currents into colder waters, leaving them hypothermic. Subsequently, this resulted in the snakes washing up on the beach.

Dr Werner Conradie, the curator of herpetology at Bayworld in Gqeberha, said that it was unusual that the two snakes were still alive after washing up as in most such cases, sea snakes are usually washed up dead or nearly dead.

Hauvette said that sea snakes also washed up along the Eastern Cape coast. People discovered four over the past week.

More about yellow-bellied sea snakes

One can easily identify yellow-bellied sea snakes because of their distinct characteristics. The upper half of the body is black or dark blue-brown, with a yellowish lower half. They are highly venomous with no anti-venom available in South Africa.

The African Snakebite Institute describes them as medium-sized snakes that average 60 cm. However, they can be as long as a meter. It is the most widely distributed sea snake in the world and it floats around in currents, often among floating debris such as seaweed and branches.

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