Sea snake identified as dangerous
20 January 2000
The snake found earlier this week at Tokerau Beach in the Far North has been identified by scientists as a Yellow-bellied Sea Snake (Pelamis platurus), a poisonous snake that can inject venom through fangs causing paralysis, severe pain and in the worst cases, cardiac arrest.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Fisheries Biosecurity Unit said the species can be found throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans and has been a regular visitor to northern New Zealand between January and May. However, due to the environmental conditions in New Zealand it cannot reproduce and therefore cannot establish here.
The snake is dark blue, but yellow underneath. Like many other sea snakes, it is poisonous, but not aggressive. If sea snakes are sighted, people should stay clear, leave the area and advise the Ministry of Fisheries or Police. Anyone bitten should stay calm and warm and seek urgent medical attention.
In this latest incident, the people who found the snake were right to be very cautious, said the spokesperson.
For further information please contact Ministry of Fisheries Communications,
tel. 04 470 2643