Deadly sea snakes showed up this week on a California beach for the first time in over thirty years thanks to warm El Niño waters.
Ana Iker was walking down the Silver Strand beach in Oxnard on Thursday with her two kids and Chihuahua when someone pointed out the creature, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. Iker said of the family’s reaction to the approximately 15-inch snake, “We were all staring at it in disbelief.”
These venomous snakes were last seen on the coast about 30 years ago. CaliforniaHerps.com records sightings in 1961 in L.A. Bay, San Diego in 1985 and during the 1982-83 El Niño at San Clemente beach in Orange County.
Yellow-bellied sea snakes are among the most venomous snakes in the world, but are rarely known to bite humans. If someone sees one, that person is encouraged to be cautious of the potentially fatal creatures but take a photo and report the sighting to local lifeguards or online.
The snakes are typically, “Dark brown or black with a bright yellow or pale yellow underside which extends up the sides,” states CaliforniaHerps.com. Also known as pelamis platurus, the snake appears to have arrived in light of warmer El Niño waters that are bringing in other more tropical creatures as well. Reports of whale sharks and pelagic red crabs and hammerhead sharks have also cropped up during the period of warmer ocean waters.
The Daily News further reported that the snakes are descendant from Asian cobras and Australian Tiger snakes.
El Niño was blamed for bringing Los Angeles its wettest day in four years in September. The marks of El Niño are likely to subside as predictions indicate an even more severe weather pattern could bring as much as a decade of rainy winters. The possibility of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, would be a welcome thought for many Californians that have faced an extended period of troubling drought.
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