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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024



Striped Sea Snake

Family : ELAPIDAE (Hydrophiinae)
Species : Hydrophis fasciatus
Maximum Size : 1.1 metres

The Striped Sea Snake occurs in coastal habitats in many parts of Southeast Asia. It is easily recognisable based on its body shape and patterning.

There is a marked difference in thickness between the broad, central part of the body of this snake, and the slender, anterior part. The head is remarkably small, and is no wider than the narrow neck region.

The underside of this snake is pale cream or pinkish, and the upper surface is patterned with dark, inverted, triangular saddles which fade to pale grey on the lower flanks. The anterior part of the body is blackish, patterned with large yellowish spots on the side and on top. 

Eels of various types comprise a primary food source (given the snake's slender head, prey of this shape would be easier to consume), but their diet also includes fishes of other body- shapes, including mullet-shaped or rabbitfish-shaped fishes (Glodek & Voris, 1982).

This species ranges from the coast of Pakistan and India in the west, through coastal Southeast Asia and southern China to New Guinea and northern Australia.

Fig 1 : Juvenile with an estimated total length of 15-20 cm, on a sandy beach on the island of Penang, Peninsular Malaysia; this may be a fresh hatchling.  The head is at the top of the photo, and the tail at the bottom.  Photo thanks to Graeme Guy.

Figs 2 and 3 :
Example from the Straits of Malacca, landed as by-catch by fishermen from the port of Teluk Bahang, Pulau Pinang, Peninsular Malaysia. Photos thanks to Luke Allen.

Fig 4 : Inshore coastal waters off the island of Penang, with the fishing port of Teluk Bahang in the distance.

References :

Glodek, G. S. & Voris, H. K. (1982). Marine snake diets: prey composition, diversity and overlap. Copeia, 661-666.

Links : Reptile Database


Fig 1
ゥ  Graeme Guy
Fig 2
ゥ  Luke Allen
Fig 3

ゥ  Luke Allen

Fig 4