Newly discovered sea snakes take species off extinction list

A pair of sea snakes previously believed to be extinct have been found off the coast of Western Australia, according to James Cook University researchers. The discovery of leaf scaled and short-nosed sea snakes was surprising for a few reasons, not the least of which is that they were found outside of their typical habitats; in some cases, they were hundreds of miles away.

The short nosed sea snakes were formerly only found on Ashmore Reef, which is in the Timor Sea, and it has been more than 15 years since they were last seen. This time around, though, the pair of snakes were found near Western Australia a good 1700 or so kilometers away from their common habitat.

According to the researchers who found the two snakes, "they were courting," a sign they're "members of a breeding population." The sea snakes are classified by the Australian government as critically endangered, and they're at risk of disappearing again.

As far as the leaf scaled sea snakes go, the researchers came across what is described as a large population of them. This particular species is also listed as critically endangered, and was also found outside of its typical habitat — in this case, they were found in Shark Bay seagrass.

SOURCE: EurekAlert