Two critically endangered sea snakes, long thought to be extinct, were recently found off the coast of Western Australia. Neither species had been seen “alive and healthy” for over 15 years.
“This discovery is really exciting, we get another chance to protect these two endemic Western Australian sea snake species,” lead author of the study Blanche D’Anastasi from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University explained in a news release. “But in order to succeed in protecting them, we will need to monitor populations as well as undertake research into understanding their biology and the threats they face.”
Scientists from JCU confirmed that the short nose sea snake was seen on Ningaloo Reef and a large population of leaf scaled sea snakes was found near Shark Bay. Both species are listed as Critically Endangered under Australia’s threatened species legislation.
The good news is that the short nose snake was displaying courtship behavior, suggesting that it came from a breeding population, which gives new hope to conservationists.
Dr. Vimoksalehi Lukoschek from the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies said that “clearly we need to identify the key threats to their survival in order to implement effective conservation strategies if we are going to protect these newly discovered coastal populations.”
To learn more:
- Read the ARC news release: Scientists discover rare sea snakes, previously thought extinct, off Western Australia
- Read the study abstract: New range and habitat records for threatened Australian sea snakes
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