Australia – On Monday researchers confirmed they found living Aipysurus apraefrontalis snakes, a species that appeared to be extinct. Also, other similar species were found, as they reported in the journal Biological Conservation.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species this snake was the most commonly recorded sea snake in the 1990s, however since 2000 no individuals were recorded, in the last 15 years the specie had a decline of at least 90 percent.

“We were blown away, these potentially extinct snakes were there in plain sight, living on one of Australia’s natural icons, Ningaloo Reef. What is even more exciting is that they were courting, suggesting that they are members of a breeding population” study lead author Blanche D’Anastas, said in a release.

he photograph of the rare short nosed sea snake discovered on Ningaloo reef, Western Australia. Credits: Grant Griffin, W.A. Dept. Parks and Wildlife

The Western Australian sea snake species that inhabited on Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea is going to be monitored by scientists in order to protect them and investigate about their biology and the threats they face, said D’Anastas, a scientist with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Australia.

It appears that the snakes they found were courting so it would suggest that there are members of a breeding population, said the scientists after explaining they were surprised they found them in sea grass beds at Shark Bay, because they thought the species were only found in coral reefs.

Analysis from scientists have not concluded yet why the number of sea snakes have been decreasing in marine parks in the last years. They said many of the snakes in the study were collected from prawn trawl by-catch surveys but the disappearance of the sea snakes could not be attributed to trawling, said Dr. Vimoksalehi Lukoschek from the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies to Eurekalert.

Dr Vimoksalehi added that scientists clearly needed to identify the fundamental threats to the survival of the species in order to apply effective conservation measures if they were going to protect the newly discovered coastal populations.

Sea snakes are magnificent, even when they live in the ocean they need to breath air, however they can hold its breath for two to three hours. It is fascinating that they do not lay eggs since they develop in the female and then are born.

Source: Science Direct