Overview

Brief Summary

Common Names

Spine-tailed sea snake

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Notes

Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.6.86 (formerly BMNH iii.10.1a and BMNH 1846.5.5.85).

Type-locality: Indian Ocean.

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Distribution

Range Description

This species distribution ranges from the northern coast of Australia to the South China Sea and includes the Gulf of Thailand (Tu 1974), Indonesia, western Malaysia, Viet Nam, and Papua New Guinea (Minton 1975).
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Marine waters of Thailand, Kampuchea, the Indo-Malayan Archipelago, and northern Australia (northwestern Western Australia eastward to the Great Barrier Reef). South China Sea, Gulf of Thailand.

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Continent: Asia Australia
Distribution: Australia (North Territory, Queensland, West Australia), South China Sea,  Gulf of Thailand, Indonesia, W Malaysia, Vietnam, New Guinea.  
Type locality: Indian Ocean
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is common in estuaries and shallow bays and is most commonly associated with mud substrata but may rarely be found over harder substrata (Limpus 1975). It may swim upstream in rivers (Limpus 1975). It occurs in turbid waters from 0-50 m. This species typically feeds on benthic fish eggs but has also been recorded taking an eel (Voris 1972). This is the smallest sea snake found in the prawn trawl fisheries on the northeastern coast of Australia (T. Courtney pers. comm. 2009).

Systems
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 7 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1 sample.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 10.7 - 50.4
  Temperature range (°C): 24.782 - 24.782
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.001 - 1.001
  Salinity (PPS): 35.354 - 35.354
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.657 - 4.657
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.135 - 0.135
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.140 - 1.140

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 10.7 - 50.4
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
Guinea, M., Lukoschek, V., Milton, D., Courtney, T., Fletcher, E. & White, M.-D.

Reviewer/s
Livingstone, S.R., Elfes, C.T., Polidoro, B.A. & Carpenter, K.E. (Global Marine Species Assessment Coordinating Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is widespread but patchily distributed. It is found in muddy turbid habitats. This species is captured in trawl fisheries, but this in not thought to be a major threat. The population status is unknown. This species is listed as Least Concern, however, it is recommended that bycatch be monitored and efforts made to reduce bycatch with exclusion devices.
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Population

Population
This species has a patchy distribution. There has been a regional population decline in the Shoalwater Bay area (Australia) from foot surveys (C. Limpus pers. comm. 2009).

This species was seasonally abundant as trawler bycatch in western Malaysia in 1989 (Stuebing and Voris 1990). This is also the case in the Gulf of Carpentaria (D. Milton pers. comm. 2009). Also captured in the eastern prawn trawl fisheries in Australia (makes up 2 % of the sea snake catch) (Courtney et al. 2010). In Madura Straits (East Java, Indonesia), this species comprised 14 out of 256 bycaught snakes collected over ten days in June 2010 (K. Sanders and Mumpuni pers. comms.).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
This species is caught as bycatch by trawlers (Stuebing and Voris 1990).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no species-specific conservation measures in place. No sea snake species is currently listed by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Sea snakes are protected in Australia since their addition to the ‘Listed Marine Species’ by the Department of Environment and Water Resources in 2000. They are protected in Australia under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999. This requires that all Australian industries interacting with protected species, directly or indirectly, demonstrate sustainability for the species impacted by their activities (Milton et al. 2008). The Australian Fisheries Management Act 1991 requires fishing efforts to avoid captures of threatened and protected species such as sea snakes.

A conservation recommendation is to reduce the number of individuals caught as bycatch in the prawn trawl fishery using appropriate exclusion devices within nets (Courtney et al. 2010).
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Wikipedia

Aipysurus eydouxii

Spine-tailed Seasnake Aipysurus eydouxii is a species of sea snake. This snake is unusual amongst sea snakes in that it feeds exclusively on fish eggs. Due to this ecological change, this species has lost its fangs and the venom glands are almost entirely atrophied. The scientific name commemorates the French naturalist Joseph Fortuné Théodore Eydoux.

Contents

Habitat

This species is found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia, Vietnam, and New Guinea inhabiting shallow bays and estuaries.

Diet

Only one other species of sea snake, Emydocephalus annulatus, shares A. eydouxii’s eggs only diet. The origin of the eggs only diet of A. eydouxii results from a genetic mutation that impacted the snakes’ ability to hunt and feed. Due to a dinucleotide deletion in the 3FTx gene, toxicity of the snakes’ venom was greatly reduced. This decrease in toxicity negatively impacted the snake’s ability to hunt and capture fish for sustenance, leading to a subsequent change in diet from fish to fish eggs. The snake has also evolved several adaptations to their new feeding habits including strong throat musculature; consolidation of lip scales, reduction and loss of teeth, and greatly reduced body size.

References

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