Deadly sea snake or 'harmless' eel?
WHEN Rachael Ingram snapped this pic of what she thought was a deadly sea snake, she was swimming with her young daughter and sister in a rock pool at Boulder Beach, Skennars Head.
"I thought these rock pools were safe from danger (sharks),” she said.
"Well, turns out we have venomous sea snakes here as well! Won't be swimming again!”
But Professor Stephen Smith, director of Southern Cross University's National Marine Science Centre, said it was actually a type of moray eel, not a sea snake.
"They are often mistaken for snakes when found swimming out in the open, but generally spend most of their time hidden away in cracks and crevices, or under rocks, in intertidal rock pools and underwater reefs,” he said.
"While it's hard to tell from this image, this looks like a Clouded Moray (also known as a Snowflake Moray) - a species which can be very common in rock pools along the NSW north coast.
"They do have sharp teeth and can bite - but generally avoid people and so interactions are uncommon.”
A relieved Ms Ingram said she was glad to hear it was an eel.
"When I saw it, I definitely thought it looked like a snake,” she said.
"I thought, 'oh no, what kind of danger am I putting my daughter in?' ... so I'm pleased that it's not a sea snake.”