‘Alarm bells’ as venomous sea snake washes ashore on Australian beach

THE snake catcher has issued a warning to the public after a “huge” sea snake washed up on a queensland beach this morning, the latest incident in a spate of beachings.
Drew Godfrey, from Hervey Bay Snake Catchers, told 9news.com.au he received a call on the injured, venomous reptile after it washed ashore in Torquay.

The fact it was an adult olive-headed sea snake immediately sounded “alarm bells”, he said.

The adult olive-headed sea snake washed up in Hervey Bay in Queensland's Fraser Coast Region.
The adult olive-headed sea snake washed up in Hervey Bay in Queensland’s Fraser Coast Region. (Hervey Bay Snake Catchers)

But this is not the first marine reptile to wash up this season.

“This has been the third since the start of the season,” he said, explaining, while the numbers are not unusual, wild weather is playing a part.

“Rough seas typically impact juvenile animals but this one was an adult, which screams alarm bells.

“It was quite malnourished.

“I don’t think it has eaten in months and there was something constricting it – possibly old skin from a past shedding.”

The olive-headed sea snake was malnourished and appeared to have something constricting it.  A piece of what's believed to be coral was also stuck in its side.
The olive-headed sea snake was malnourished and appeared to have something constricting it. A piece of what’s believed to be coral was also stuck in its side. (Hervey Bay Snake Catchers)

Godfrey said the animal also appeared to have “something”, believed to be a piece of coral, stuck in its side.

“Its swim test so far hasn’t been very optimistic,” he said, adding he’s hoping to transport the animal to Australia Zoo for medical assessment.

The snake handler urged members of the public not to approach any snake they find on a beach, listing “several reasons” why this isn’t a good idea.

Olive-headed Seasnake, Disteira major in Bundaberg, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
An olive-headed sea snake pictured in the Great Barrier Reef. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“First, sea snakes are deadly venomous,” Godfrey said.

“Even though sea snakes generally don’t bite, when injured and scared, any snake – regardless of its normal behavior – is more likely to bite if you approach it.

“Second, sea snakes are not built to be out of the water. Their bodies are too heavy for their bones and handling a sea snake incorrectly can fatally damage the snake by separating its vertebrae.

“Last reason to not pick up or throw it back is because they are never meant to be on land.

“If they’re on land there is some kind of problem and it will require medical assessment before being released.”

HOOK-NOSED SEA SNAKE Enhydrina schistosa.  Close up showing head detail and scales.  Specimen from coast of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.  stock photo

The world’s deadliest, most terrifying, snakes

Godfrey said three species of sea snake are commonly found on the east coast.

These are the olive-headed sea snake, elegant sea snake and olive sea snake.

Leave a Comment