Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Olive Sea Snake

Aipysurus laevis, or more commonly referred to as the Olive Sea Snake, resides about the swain reefs and the Keppel Islands in the Australian Barrier Reef. They weigh about 6 pounds, are between 3-7 feet. All sea snakes are thought to have evolved from a family of Australian land snakes. Unlike eels, sea snakes have lungs instead of gills, and need to come to the surface to breathe air. Because of this, they tend to live in shallow waters where they swim about the bottom feeding on fish, fish eggs and eels. Sea snakes have a large left lung that stretches over much of their body length and allows them to stay underwater for a few hours.


All sea snakes, including the Olive Sea Snake, have specialized flattened tails which act as a paddle, for swimming and valves over their nostrils which close underwater. 

The Olive Sea Snake is one of the most venomous sea snakes, able to kill its prey in seconds. This venom contain neurotoxins which act on the nerve cells of the victim, paralyzing the respiratory system and ultimately causing death. Sometimes the venom also contains myotoxins which affect the skeletal muscles.

An adaptation from this snake to its life in the coral reef are the photoreceptors in the skin of its tail. This allows the Olive Sea Snake to detect light and help it while it remains hidden inside coral holes during the day, able to detect threats or prey.

Unlike most sea snakes, the Olive Sea Snake is reputed to be quite aggressive.

Threats to this species include mortality due to capture, entanglement/drowning in nets and fishing lines and incidental capture and death due to trawling fishing activities. As of now, the Olive Sea Snake is not endangered, but it is threatened. 

I chose this reptile because I find venomous animals to be fascinating. Anything dangerous automatically catches my interest, so naturally I chose one of the most venomous sea snakes to research.

- Victoria Mehlhaff -

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