Family : HYDROPHIIDAE
Species : Aipysurus eydouxii
Maximum Size : 1.0 metres
The Marbled or
Spiny-tailed Sea Snake is an example of a true sea snake. Such snakes are
fully adapted to a marine environment and never emerge on land, though they
are sometimes stranded in the inter-tidal zone by receding tides. The young
are born alive at sea.
The Marbled Sea Snake is
an inhabitant of shallow waters and coral reefs, where it feeds almost
exclusively on fish eggs. It may also be encountered some distance up
Sea snakes are identified
by the short, laterally flattened tail which acts as a paddle. The eyes are
small, and the valved nostrils are located towards the top of the snout
which allows the snake to breathe air easily while floating on the sea
surface. Some are also able to absorb some of their oxygen requirements
through their skin, in the manner of amphibians, and may thus remain
submerged for some hours if inactive.
All sea snakes are
venomous, some highly so. They should only be approached by those familiar
with their habits. Even 'dead' specimens found at the beach should not be
touched, because some species are in the habit of feigning death when
stranded by the tide.
Sea snakes occur mainly in
the warm tropical waters of the Indian Ocean and western Pacific Ocean. The
Marbled Sea Snake occurs throughout Southeast Asia and parts of Australia.
Fig 1 : Marbled Sea Snake beached in intertidal seagrass habitat, Chek Jawa,
Singapore. Photo thanks to Ng Bee Choo