Venomous sea snake washes up on California beach

Thanks to a particularly strong El Nino, sea snakes are washing up on California beaches at an increased rate. Most recently, researchers were surprised to discover a type of venomous reptile called the yellow-bellied sea snake washed ashore earlier this month on a California beach...far beyond its normal habitat. Even more surprising, this is the second of its kind discovered this year.

The yellow-bellied sea snake prefers warm climates, and as such is usually found down around Mexico — it's very rare for one of the snakes to work their way farther north to the southern California beaches. Before this year, only three such snakes had been discovered on California beaches ever — the type of rarity preferred when it comes to such creatures.

Before this year, the last of these venomous snakes found in California was recorded in 1972.

The snakes appear to be coming further north this year, though, thanks to warming temperatures and, in particular, a strong El Nino. The temperatures don't stay warm enough for long, though, and during the cooler months of the year the north-bound snakes die and wash ashore.

Even if the snake does wash ashore while alive, beach goers shouldn't worry as long as they leave the snake alone. The snakes aren't known to be fatal to humans, and won't come biting unless you foolishly get close, making it feel threatened.

SOURCE: Live Science