A person made a startling — and increasingly frequent — discovery while walking along Newport Beach earlier this week: A venomous sea snake.
The Los Angeles Times reports the 25-inch female serpent was taken by a lifeguard to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, where it was euthanized. According to the Times, this was the third such report of a sea snake being discovered in Southern California since 2015, the fifth since 1972.
The snakes are “apparently drawn far north of their usual habitat by the spread of warm ocean temperatures,” the Times reported.
According to CaliforniaHerps.com, a website dedicated to amphibians and reptiles of California, the yellow-bellied sea snake’s venom yield is low, but still potentially dangerous to humans. However, the snakes are not known to be aggressive. The snakes typically spend their entire life on the ocean, where they feed on surface-dwelling fish and eels.
“This snake is probably the most widely distributed snake in the world,” the website reports, though the serpents are listed as “uncommon in California.”
A biologist told the Times that when a sea snake washes up on a beach, it’s because it is sick and too weak to make it back out to sea.