Sure, going to the beach in December isn’t a common thing to do, but it isn’t by any means unheard of. Unless you’re part of the Surfrider Foundation, in which case you go around and help keep beaches a better, cleaner place throughout the year. So you can only imagine the surprise on the faces of the Surfrider volunteers, when they stumbled across a highly poisonous snake on the shores of Bolsa Chica State Beach.
- The snake has only been found twice before in California, one in October, and the other one in the ‘70s
- The yellow-bellied sea snake was found dead
- The creature can swim both forwards and backwards, and hold its breath for three hours
- It swam so close to shore because of the increasingly warm waters caused by El Niño and climate change
Members of the Surfrider Foundation were cleaning up Bolsa Chica State Beach, when they came upon a sight they never thought they would.
Right on the seashore, the volunteers could see a long silhouette that looked familiar from a distance. When they approached, they could see that the silhouette belonged to a dead yellow-bellied sea snake, and that it just happened to wash ashore.
This isn’t the first time a yellow-bellied sea snake has washed ashore a Californian beach, but it’s still definitely a rare occasion.
Although another individual of the species was found alive on a beach in October, and it died shortly thereafter, the only other sighting of the animal in California was in the ‘70s.
Scientists attribute the appearance of two snakes this year to multiple factors, especially to the uncharacteristically warm water for this time of year.
It is believed that because of El Niño and climate change, the waters closer to shore are warmer than they should be, and the snake came searching for eels and fish, which it paralyzes using its potent venom.
Greg Pauly, assistant curator of herpetology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, warns about the possibility that more snakes will be found in the area due to the warmer waters. He also claims that it was to be expected.
And even though he is doubtful that the snake can be dangerous to humans due to its small mouth designed to eat fish, he still warns beachgoers to beware the still poisonous sea snake.
The snake can be recognized by its black body, yellow underbelly and small head.
Image source: Wikimedia