Yellow-bellied sea snake
An “exotic, incredibly venomous” sea snake has been spotted along the Southern California coast, and a local environmental group said the creature was brought to shore courtesy of El Niño.
According to KTLA, at least one yellow-bellied sea snake, which lives its entire life in the ocean, was recently spotted at Silver Strand Beach near Oxnard.
The snake was first brought to the medias attention by the nonprofit environmental advocacy group in a blog post on Friday.
A portion of the post reads regarding Yellow-bellied sea snake reads=:
Riding the warm ocean currents across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the only sea snake that ventures completely out to sea has been spotted in Southern California waters and beaches as far north as Oxnard for the first time in 30 years. The Yellow-bellied Sea Snake has some of the most poisonous venom in the world, and is a descendant from Asian cobras and Australian tiger snakes. This sea snake is a harbinger of El Niño–it typically lives in warm tropical waters. The last time the yellow-bellied snake was spotted in California was in the early 1980’s during an El Niño. Scientists are calling for the public’s help to confirm occurrences of these sea snakes in California and your sighting could be published in scientific journals. A recent sighting took place in the Silver Strand beach area in Oxnard. As the yellow-bellied sea snake is highly venomous, the public should not handle it. Instead, take photos, note the exact location, and report any sightings in California to iNaturalist and Herp Mapper.
According to USA Today, the snake found Friday died shortly after being transported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s office in Ventura, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“The species is entirely aquatic. Seeing a yellow-bellied sea snake wash ashore indicates that the animal is most likely ill or injured,” Greg Pauly, herpetology curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, said in a statement, according to the LA Times.