Tags: california | venomous | sea snakes | beach

California Venomous Sea Snakes Joining Beachgoers

California Venomous Sea Snakes Joining Beachgoers

This Dec. 17, 2015, photo shows a dead venomous snake in Huntington Beach, California. (Ed Crisostomo/The Orange County Register via AP)

By    |   Friday, 12 January 2018 08:35 AM

Californian waters are bringing an increased number of rare, venomous sea snakes to the shores, leaving beachgoers weary to dip their toes into the ocean.

A 25-inch yellow-bellied sea snake was discovered at Newport Beach on Monday by a person walking along the surf near the 18th Street lifeguard tower, The Los Angeles Times noted.

This is the third report of the species being found in Southern California since 2015, with only two other sightings reported before then, from 1972.

"It's uncommon for these snakes to be seen this far north, as they favor the warmer waters off the coast of southern Baja California, Mexico," said Greg Pauly, herpetological curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, according to CBS News.

He pointed to rising ocean temperatures as the reason why this rare phenomenon was occurring more frequently.

"Oceans are warming and the species that respond to that change will be those that are the most mobile," said Pauly, per KTLA. "So the big question now is this: Are sea snakes swimming off the coast of Southern California the new normal?"

Karen Martin, a professor of biology at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, said that it was not unexpected to find the sea snakes washing ashore.

"In general, we see fish moving north that are unusual in these areas — like hammerhead sharks or mahimahi — and it's unusual to see the snakes, but not unexpected when you have these really warm waters from the El Niño event," she explained, according to Live Science.

Biologists believe the sea snakes may have wandered further north in pursuit of food sources such as small fish and eels in warmer waters, the L.A. Times noted.

As for the recently discovered female sea snake, lifeguards took it to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, where the decision to euthanize it was made.

Pauly noted that a marine serpent washing up on the beach commonly meant it was sick and unable to swim out beyond the shore break. In light of this, the most humane decision had to be made.

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TheWire
Reports of venomous sea snakes on California shores appear to be getting more common, with the latest sighting on Monday being the third since 2015.
california, venomous, sea snakes, beach
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2018-35-12
Friday, 12 January 2018 08:35 AM
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