Thursday, September 24, 2009

We saw a sea snake

Gavin: Barbara (Michele's mom) doesn't like snakes. Just a picture of a snake gives her the willies.

I'm very proud of her for not fainting when she found this sea snake washed up on the beach a few weeks ago. Instead she came back to the house and told the rest of us about it. Lorna (my mum) and the kids and I immediately high-tailed it down the beach so we could check it out.

It made an odd loopy trail as it tried to get itself back into the water; it would stay very still for several minutes and then kind of flop around on the sand. We don't know why it let itself get washed up on the beach in the first place-- maybe it ate something bad that confused it.

Sea snakes can be highly venomous, and my mum always told me not to mess with snakes, so we all kept our distance. Well, we kept our distance until my mum decided we should rescue it: "in case a child comes along, decides it's dead, pokes it, and gets bitten."

I reminded her that my mum always told me not to mess with snakes, but she found a couple of sturdy sticks and proceeded to try to pick it up and carry it down to the water.

You can't tell from the picture, but this was a pretty big snake-- about 4 feet long-- so picking it up turned out to be a two-person job. I took a stick from my mum and the two of us picked it up and carried it down to the water while it did it's best to kill mum's stick, repeatedly biting it. Very exciting!

And the story has a happy ending-- after a minute or so in the water, it gracefully swam of into the deep.

The Queensland Museum has a great web site that helped us later identify this as a Beaked Sea Snake which is, actually, potentially quite deadly (three times as toxic as a cobra, ~30 times as venomous as a rattlesnake), although not normally aggressive.

Unless you go and start poking it with sticks...


  1. How cool! And I'm quite glad to hear the snake was only able to attack the stick, and the not the rescuers.

  2. We saved a field mouse from the cat. In the dining room. Yep, that's the level of excitement in NH right now. Although we did see a garter snake in the back yard. . .definitely not as exciting. :)