IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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The dangerously venomous Hydrophis ornatus occurs in coastal waters of Myanmar and is widely distributed from the Persian Gulf east to New Guinea and Australia and north along the coast of China to the Ryukyu Archipelago. It is reported to inhabit clear waters with coral reefs, as well as turbid rivers and estuaries. It is active both day and night. (Leviton et al. (2003)

Leviton et al. (2003) provide a technical description of Hydrophis ornatus: Scales on thickest part of body more or less hexagonal in shape, feebly imbricate or juxtaposed; 10-13 maxillary teeth behind fangs; head large; body robust, not elongate, greatest diameter posteriorly about twice that of the neck; 1 preocular; 2 postoculars; 2 anterior temporals; 7-8 upper labials; scale rows on neck: males 28-37, females 31-45; on thickest part of body: males 33-45, females 39-55 (increase from neck to midbody 4-12); ventrals distinct throughout, in males 209-260, in females 236-312; anterior ventrals about twice as large as adjacent scales, narrowing posteriorly; above grayish or light olive to almost white with broad dark bars or rhomboidal spots separated by narrow interspaces; below, yellowish or whitish. Total length: males 950 mm, females 860 mm; tail length: males 115 mm, females 80 mm.

Two previously recognized subspecies, H. ornatus ornatus and H. ornatus ocellatus (the latter from Australian coastal waters), have been synonymized, but a new subspecies, H. o. maresinensis, was recognized for populations found off the coast of China, Taiwan, and the Ryukyu Islands.

(Leviton et al. 2003 and references therein)

Bush and Holmes (1984) described a new trematode parasite found in multiple specimens of Hydrophis ornatus.

Ward (2000) studied sea snake bycatch by trawlers pursuing prawns off northern Australia. This bycatch included a substantial number of H. ornatus and Wassenberg et al. (2000) found that mortality of captured H. ornatus was particularly high, with fewer than half alive after 96 hours in a tank.

Van Cao et al. (2014) studied the commercial harvesting of sea snakes, including H. atriceps, in the Gulf of Thailand.

Tamiya et al. (1983) analyzed the main neurotoxic components of the venom from H. ornatus and H. lapemoides.


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