Hydrophis – Sea snakes

Swimming and diving in Southeast Asian & Indo-Australian seas

Sea snakes are known for their potent venom; in fact, some species have much stronger venom than any terrestrial snake. Despite this, sea snakes are generally considered non-aggressive towards humans and rarely cause fatalities. They tend to be gentle creatures and only bite as a last resort if they feel threatened or are mishandled.

These marine reptiles are specially adapted to life in the ocean. They can be found in the warm coastal waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from the east coast of Africa to the Gulf of Panama. Unlike fish, sea snakes do not have gills and must surface regularly to breathe. However, they can hold their breath for long periods while hunting underwater, typically in waters less than 30 meters deep, although some species can dive to depths of 100 meters or more.

Their diet mainly consists of small fish and occasionally crustaceans, which they hunt for on the seafloor. To aid in their underwater hunting, they have a paddle-shaped tail, making them excellent swimmers capable of graceful and effortless movements in the water. Sometimes, when they are swimming quickly or coming up for air, you might see them poking their heads out of the water.

One of the distinctive features of sea snakes is their striking color patterns. Most sea snakes have bands of color, ranging from black to shades of blue, grey, or white. These bands sometimes alternate with each other, creating a beautiful and distinctive pattern that can vary widely from one sea snake to another. The patterns are not just for show; they also serve as camouflage to protect them from predators and to help them sneak up on their prey.