Mackay's Blanche D'Anastasi releases at sea snake at Shark Bay, Western Australia. Photo: Jordy Thompson.
Mackay's Blanche D'Anastasi releases at sea snake at Shark Bay, Western Australia. Photo: Jordy Thompson.

Two species of sea snake feared extinct found off WA

A MACKAY scientist has found two species of sea snake which had been feared extinct.

Blanche D'Anastasi found the leaf-scaled sea snake at Shark Bay off Western Australia, and identified the short nose sea snake from a photograph taken at Ningaloo Reef by a wildlife officer.

It was the first time the two sea snakes had been seen alive in about 15 years, 1700 kilometres south of their only known habitat.

"It was actually pretty amazing," Ms D'Anastasi said.

"We went out a Shark Bay to look for sea snakes and the first snake we caught was the leaf-scaled sea snake.

"It was the luckiest snake find ever."

Ms D'Anastasi became interested in 'chronically understudied' sea snakes after a chat with her James Cook University professor Dr Vimoksalehi Lukoschek about the disappearance of the reptiles from Ashmore Reef, which boasted the highest numbers of sea snakes in the world in 1995.

It's still not known what caused the disappearance of the sea snakes, but Ms D'Anastasi said she would aim to learn more about the creatures, and answer the question one day in the future.

The discovery was detailed in a research paper published in Biological Conservation last month.



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