Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yellow-bellied Snake in “Snake -free” New Zealand

The Yellowbelly Sea Snake or Pelagic Sea Snake (Pelamis platurus) is a species of sea snake found in tropical oceanic waters around the world. It occurs on both sides of the Pacific and is the only sea snake to have reached the Hawaiian Islands. One of the world's most poisonous snakes, it has caused a stir in New Zealand, where a 90-centimetre yellow-bellied sea snake made its way alive to the snake-free country, washing up on the beach at Dargaville.
The snake was discovered Wednesday by Graeme Ramsey of Baylys Beach as he walked his dog on the sand. Ramsey identified the snake on the Internet and called police, who kept guard on the snake until it was picked up by rescuers.
It is now reported to be recovering at an Auckland marine centre. "We get three or four sightings a year, but usually when they come to shore they are dead or at death's door," according to curator Andrew Christie. Few sea snakes survive in New Zealand's cold waters. The yellow-bellied sea snake is part of the cobra family. There has been speculation in some quarters, that the increase in the sightings of these snakes in the colder waters surrounding New Zealand, including this one which survived long enough to wash up alive, are related to increases in average sea temperature (as a result of the effects of global warming). Does this seem likely?

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