El Niño Brings Venomous Sea Snakes to California

If you’re one of those people wary of swimming in the ocean because you’ve been traumatized by Jaws, guess what? Now there’s one more reason not to go in the water. A venomous sea snake has shown up in Southern California for the first time in 30 years.

Inhabitat is reporting that beachgoers in Ventura County recently stumbled across a yellow-bellied sea snake. They didn’t literally stumble across it, which is a good thing, because the venom of yellow-bellied sea snakes is about ten times deadlier than that of the Egyptian cobra. The species is quite common in certain geographical regions. They’re off the coast of Africa, floating around the Indian ocean, and all up and down South and Central America.

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One place they usually aren’t is in the water off the state of California. The water is too cold. But now, with El Niño changing ocean currents, warm water is surging northwards and bringing sea snakes with it.

Surfers or swimmers need not be too alarmed. The yellow-bellied sea snake is highly venomous, but is also one of the most passive creatures one could hope to meet. It eats small fish, and its strategy for catching them is to lie motionless near the surface of the ocean waiting until they get close, then biting them.

On land they’re even less fearsome. Their weight distribution forces them to lie on their side, and restricts their mobility. Don’t touch them, and they won’t touch you. The sea snake that washed up on the beach was placed in a bucket of water (by trained animal control agents), but died shortly after it was found.

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Top Image: Aloiaza Second Image: Carpenter0

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