PORT PHILLIP BAY


Yellow-bellied Sea Snake 

Pelamis platura (Linnaeus, 1766)

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

See below for information.

Sources:
Cogger, H. G. (2000) Reptiles and amphibians of Australia, sixth edition.
Wilson, S. K. and Swan, G. (2008) A complete guide to reptiles, second edition.

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Chordata
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Class:
Reptilia
Subclass:
Lepidosauria
Order:
Squamata
Suborder:
Ophidia (serpentes)
Superfamily:
Xenophidia (colubroidea = caenophidia)
Family:
Hydrophiidae
Genus:
Pelamis
Species:
platura

General Description

Black to brown with cream to yellow sides. Tail yellow with dark patches. This species is distinguished from eels by the absence of gill openings and the coarse obvious scales. They have paired fangs on the roof of the mouth while eels do not. Length to about 70 cm.

Biology

These snakes are rare visitors to Victoria, travelling in pulses of warm water coming down the east coast from the tropics. They give birth to live young at sea in tropical waters. They are air breathers, so must return to the surface regularly to breathe. This species is one of 33 sea snake species found in Australia, and one of only three sea snakes species recorded from Tasmania.

Habitat

Surface waters, usually found once washed ashore.

Open water

Distribution guide

Indian and Pacific Oceans. Mainly northern Australia. Occasional visitor to Victorian coastal waters, potentially to Port Phillip.

Species Group

Reptiles Sea snakes

Depth

Shore (0-1 m)
Shallow (1-30 m)

Water Column

Midwater Surface

Max Size

70 cm

Diet

Carnivore

Harmful

Venomous bite, potentially lethal.

Commercial Species

No

Global Dispersal

Recorded in Australia

Conservation Status

  • DSE Advisory List : Not listed
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Least Concern

Author

article author Patullo, B.

Blair Patullo is Online Producer for marine projects at Museum Victoria.

citation

Cite this page as:
Patullo, B., 2011, Yellow-bellied Sea Snake, Pelamis platura, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 26 Jul 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/8107

Text: creative commons cc by licence