Yellow-lipped Sea Krait

Footage of a yellow-lipped sea krait (Laticauda colubrina), one of two we found sheltered in the mangroves of a tiny island in the Lesser Sundas. Finding this snake was like out of a storybook — snorkeling through the nutrient-rich waters and vibrantly colored coral reefs to reach two sea kraits hidden away behind a lattice of roots. Unlike many other Hydrophiine sea snakes, the yellow-lipped sea krait is muscular-bodied and well adapted to moving around in both land and sea. On land the snake slithers much like you’d expect from a typical terrestrial Asian krait, easily sliding through the rocky substrate. For aquatic locomotion the tail is maneuverable and laterally compressed, allowing the sea krait to propel itself through water much like a fish. Feeling the tail undulations of both sea kraits and water monitors has been some of the coolest experiences I’ve had this year. This semiaquatic species feeds mostly on eels and fish, actively foraging in both shallow waters and the sea floor. Sea kraits also spend a significant portion of their time on land to find mates, digest meals, and drink freshwater.

Sea kraits (Laticauda sp.) belong to the family Elapidae and possess one of the most potent neurotoxic venom of all serpents. However, they are generally docile in nature and very reluctant to bite. Unfortunately I had to throw out most of the footage since a giant glob of water was right in the center of the lens of my underwater camera, but I’m happy some of it turned out all right.

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A still of a yellow-lipped sea krait (Laticauda colubrina) swimming in the shallow waters of a tiny island in the Lesser Sundas; filmed after disturbance [4]

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