Sea kraits are a type of venomous sea snake found in tropical coastal waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They belong to the genus Laticauda and are known for their distinctive banded pattern and potent venom. Sea kraits are highly adapted to aquatic life and are often found near coral reefs, where they hunt for prey, such as eels and small fish. Despite their venomous nature, sea kraits are generally docile and not aggressive toward humans unless provoked.


Species

There are several different species of sea kraits, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the most well-known species include:

  1. Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrina): This is one of the most widespread and common sea kraits, known for its distinctive banded pattern and yellow-lipped snout.
  2. Black-banded Sea Krait (Laticauda semifasciata): As the name suggests, this species has prominent black bands on its body, with a yellow snout and black tail.
  3. Blue-lipped Sea Krait (Laticauda laticaudata): This species has a striking blue coloration on its snout and lips, with black bands on its body.
  4. Yellow-lipped Sea Krait (Laticauda frontalis): This species is characterized by its yellow snout and lips, along with black bands on its body.
Yellow-lipped Sea Kraits are aptly named for the yellow stripe over the yellow stripe that runs over their eyes and muzzle
Yellow-lipped Sea Kraits are aptly named for the yellow stripe over the yellow stripe that runs over their eyes and muzzle


Appearance

The majority of Sea Krait heads are typically dark. Except for the Blue-lipped Sea Krait, other species in this family have a yellow strip that runs along the lips and under either eyeball. It additionally has a yellow stripe over the eyes and a yellow muzzle. Similar to their heads, their tails have a wide black ring with a U-shaped yellow pattern along the margin. Their bodies are sleek and scaly, while the Banded Sea Krait, in particular, has a striking color combination of either turquoise or gray. 

Banded Sea Kraits have 26 black bands, which are thicker than those of the majority of other snake species
Banded Sea Kraits have 26 black bands, which are thicker than those of the majority of other snake species

Because of their paddle-shaped tails,  they are more suited for swimming than writhing. In water, the Sea Krait is quicker and more maneuverable than on land.

Diet

Sea Kraits use their powerful venom for hunting. They rarely catch smaller fish and predominantly consume giant eels. This species of sea snake, in contrast with all others, return to shore to digest its prey after a hunt. It will immobilize the bigger eel with its venom before swallowing it all at once.

In addition to having a wider hunting radius than males, the stronger females may persist at higher depths. Sea Kraits, like all snakes, have extraordinarily enormous jaws. This indicates that even if their eel victim is considerably bigger than them, they can still devour it as a whole.

Habitat

Sea kraits are most commonly encountered in warm, tropical regions in coastline waters. Many can be found off the coast of small islands, frequently hiding in narrow nooks or below boulders. Its main habitat is the shallow coral reef environments, wherein its main food availability is found. Unlike other sea snakes, which can spend their whole life span in the ocean, sea kraits tend to spend greater amounts of time on shore.

Unlike other sea snakes, sea kraits also spend a great amount of time on shore
Unlike other sea snakes, sea kraits also spend a great amount of time on shore

They possess a number of unique diving features, such as a saccular lung that enables them to hunt for prey at underwater depths of up to 200 ft. They are also present in mangrove settings. As a consequence of their capacity to climb trees, they can be observed on the highest peaks of the islands where they live.

Reproduction

Since it reproduces on shore instead of at sea, Sea Kraits are distinct from others. Annually, from September to December, when it’s warmer, is the mating season. In order to attract females, males congregate in bunches near the coast and in shallow waters. Since they produce greater and more eggs, the biggest females are typically sought after by the males. A male will pursue a female to start the wooing process once he spots her. 

The same female will be pursued by numerous males, who will huddle close to her in an effort to stand out. The female will lay about ten eggs in each brood after mating with the male of her choice. Because they lay eggs that mature outside of the body, this animal is oviparous.

Threats

Sea Kraits encounter various land-based and aquatic threats since they are so prevalent on land.  They can suffocate if they are imprisoned for an extended period of time in fishing lines or tarps intended for other creatures. Furthermore, they can also perish if they become stuck in tailpipes on boats. Construction imperils the population by obliterating simultaneously their terrestrial as well as aquatic habitats. A substantial percentage of their habitat is being transformed for tourism purposes.

Construction causes loss of habitat for sea kraits and is, therefore, one of the greatest dangers they face
Construction causes loss of habitat for sea kraits and is, therefore, one of the greatest dangers they face


Facts About the Sea Krait

  1. The Longest Sea Krait ever recorded was 11.8 ft long.
  2. Sea Kraits can live for up to 20 years.
  3. Sea Kraits can stay submerged for 15-30 minutes on a single breath.
  4. Sea Krait venom induces paralysis in its victims.
  5. Male Sea Kraits are only 30 inches in length, compared to the 50 inches of the females.


FAQs

How venomous is a Sea Krait?

The Sea Krait is one of the most deadly marine species out there because of its neurotoxic venom, which is 10x more potent than rattlesnake venom. The victim’s nervous system is compromised, causing tremors, immobility, heart failure, and death.

What’s the difference between a sea snake and a Sea Krait?

The tip of the tail is what distinguishes a Sea Krait from a sea snake. A Sea Krait’s tail will be squashed into the shape of a paddle to aid in swimming through into the water with the greatest amount of thrust.

Is Sea Krait aggressive toward humans?

While they are a particularly deadly species, their nature doesn’t match their lethality. Its total danger to individuals is modest because it is timid, mostly nocturnal, and isn’t particularly combative, and it won’t go out of its way to hurt a human.

What is the survival rate of a Sea Krait bite?

According to a medical toxicological investigation, 70–80% of people die from a Sea Krait bite if left untreated. In case of a bite, immediate medical assistance is needed, with restriction of movement and pressure being applied to the affected area in order to stop the venom from spreading into the body. These procedures significantly increase the chances of survival. 

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