Creature Feature – Olive Sea Snake
This week’s featured creature is the Olive Sea Snake.
The olive sea snake is a common sea snake, and a true snake – they are one of 55 species in the subfamily Hydrophinnae, unlike the 8 species of sea snake that belong to the subfamily Laticaudinea. Like land snakes, olive sea snakes must shed their skin and do so by rubbing it against hard coral or rocks to loosen it first.
Scientific Name: Aipysurus laevis
Olive Sea Snake Fact File
Size: Individuals can measure up to 1.8m long and weigh up to 3kg
Distribution: This species can be found in the Indo-Pacific and is common along the northern coast of Australia and nearby island groups
Diet: Highly venomous, this species actively hunts small to medium sized fishes and benthic invertebrates, including prawns and crabs. It prefers to hunt at night
Behaviour: This species can spend up to two hours underwater before returning to the surface to breathe. Unlike sea turtles, crocodiles, sea kraits (not ‘true’ sea sakes) and all other marine reptiles – which must nest on shore – the olive sea snake’s entire life cycle occurs in the ocean. Olive sea snakes are naturally curious and are known to approach SCUBA divers, not aggressively but inquisitively, especially at night
IUCN Status: Least Concern. Though there are not many threats to the species currently, accidental capture by fishers targeting other species – particularly bottom trawlers can affect certain population levels. It is estimated that 50% of olive sea snakes caught in prawn trawls are killed