2nd sea serpent ashore: Rare Sea Serpent Washes Ashore
Published: December 21, 2015
2nd sea serpent ashore: Rare Sea Serpent Washes Ashore, For the second time in two months, a rare deadly sea snake has washed ashore at one of southern California’s most popular beaches.
A dead 27-inch-long male yellow bellied sea snake was discovered last week during a coastal cleanup campaign by volunteers for the Surfrider Foundation in Huntington Beach, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In October, a two-foot-long yellow bellied sea snake was discovered slithering onto Silver Strand State Beach in Ventura County, but it died shortly after being taken to a US Fish and Wildlife Service office nearby.
The venomous sea serpent, known to scientists as Pelamis platura, was first spotted in 1972 during an El Niño in San Clemente.
A descendant of Australian tiger snakes, experts believe the arrival of the sea snake is a harbinger of El Niño because the last time it appeared in California was during the weather system in the ’80s.
Greg Pauly, herpetological curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, said this latest discovery is only the third time the snake has ever been spotted in California.
‘One in a year is incredible. Two in a year is just mind-blowing. I’m just completely shocked,’ Pauly told the OC Register.
He explained to the Times that he thinks the reptile found in Huntington Beach may have been ‘prompted to navigate north of its normal tropical habitat by the spread of abnormally warm ocean temperatures because of a strong El Niño this year.’
‘It is incredible and fascinating to have two of these aquatic, highly venomous snakes suddenly show up around here,’ he told the newspaper.
‘But this is not an invasion, and no one has ever died from the bite of this animal.
‘Their fangs are tiny and they can barely open their mouths wide enough to bite a person.
‘So, unless you pick one up, the biggest safety concern with going to the beach is with driving there and then driving home.’
With a bright yellow underside and a flat, paddle-like tail with black spots, the reptile is the most wide-ranging snake species on Earth.
It usually is found off the coasts of warm tropical waters such as Asia, Australia, Central America, Mexico and Baja California.
Experts have theorized that the onset of El Niño has allowed the sea snakes to get to California by riding warm ocean currents across the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The snake sightings have also been noted on a blog for Heal the Bay, and the organization asked members of the public to avoid handling the snake and instead note the location and take photos.
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