Yellow-bellied sea snake

The most widespread species of snakes on earth are found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans and from Africa to Central America

Luis Correa

A highly specialized marine reptile found predominantly in the warm coastal waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Its paddle-like tail and flattened, ribbon-like body are evolutionary adaptations that enable it to navigate the open ocean, both forwards and backward easily. These adaptations are so effective for aquatic life that the yellow-bellied sea snake has lost its ability to move efficiently on land and thus spends its entire life at sea.

This sea snake’s unique coloration, with its dark, often black, dorsum and bright yellow or cream-colored ventral side, warns potential predators about its venomous nature. While not typically aggressive, the yellow-bellied sea snake is equipped with potent venom that it uses to subdue its prey, primarily small fish and fish eggs.

Predators of the yellow-bellied sea snake are few, but they may include sharks and large species of fish. However, these potential predators often avoid the snake, possibly due to its unpleasant taste or the venomous threat it poses. Seabirds have also been observed capturing these snakes, only to release them quickly—another indication that their aposematic coloration is an effective deterrent.

Despite their venomous capability, yellow-bellied sea snakes are not considered a significant threat to humans, primarily because encounters are infrequent. These snakes are pelagic, meaning they live in the open sea, and are only occasionally washed ashore during storms or when ill.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
American Samoa
2009
Australia
2009
Bahrain
2009
Bangladesh
2009
Cambodia
2009
China
2009
Christmas Island
2009
Cocos Is. (Keeling)
2009
Colombia
2009
Costa Rica
2009
Djibouti
2009
Ecuador
2009
El Salvador
2009
Eritrea
2009
Fiji
2009
French Polynesia
2009
Galápagos
2009
Guatemala
2009
Honduras
2009
India
2009
Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.
Indonesia
2009
Iran
2009
Iraq
2009
Islands
2009
Japan
2009
Kenya
2009
Kiribati
2009
Korea
2009
Kuwait
2009
Madagascar
2009
Malaysia
2009
Mauritius
2009
Mayotte
2009
Mexico
2009
Micronesia
2009
Mozambique
2009
Myanmar
2009
Nauru
2009
New Caledonia
2009
Niue
2009
North Korea
2009
Oman
2009
Pakistan
2009
Palau
2009
Panama
2009
Papua New Guinea
2009
Philippines
2009
Pitcairn
2009
Qatar
2009
Réunion
2009
Samoa
2009
Seychelles
2009
Singapore
2009
Solomon Islands
2009
Somalia
2009
South Africa
2009
Sri Lanka
2009
Taiwan
2009
Tanzania
2009
Thailand
2009
Tokelau
2009
Tonga
2009
Tuvalu
2009
UAE
2009
US Minor Outlying Islands
2009
United States
2009
Hawaiian Is.
Vanuatu
2009
Vietnam
2009
Wallis & Futuna
2009
Yemen
2009

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No