You always think to watch out for sharks when you go to the beach, but you likely never thought you’d have to look for snakes as well…and venomous ones at that.
For those of you who didn’t know, there are actually snakes that live out in the ocean. Known as “sea snakes,” these slithery serpents are fully adapted to an aquatic lifestyle, and most of them are unable to come on land.
Though one genus is able to move on land, and people do encounter sea snakes in the water from time to time.
Still, it’s not a common thing to spot a sea snake, so you can imagine how frightening it must have been when one turned up on Sandon Point Beach in New South Wales, Australia.
Sandon Point Beach is popular beach for locals and tourists alike. It is frequented by surfers, and has even served as the host of serval surfing tournaments.
Visit NSW also describes Sandon Point as a “family beach.” The beach even allows visitors to bring their dogs during certain times of day.
Sandon Point Beach this morn. Chilly out but not in. When the bubbles streaming past your fingertips start to glisten you think 'ahhh, here's the sun'. Swam towards a rainbow on return.?? pic.twitter.com/izpMbO9PqN
— Susan McCreery (@SusanMcCreery2) June 22, 2019
So in other words, there was the potential for a lot to go wrong when a venomous sea snake recently turned up on Sandon Point Beach.
The Illawarra Mercury reported on the incident, writing that beachgoers spotted the snake near the rock pools on the beach. The snake was originally found on the southern end of the beach and eventually made its way back into the water, but was still no more than 100 meters from the rock pools.
This beautiful 'Elegant Sea Snake' washed up at Sandon Point. Thanks Surf Life Saving Illawarra's @Anthony Turner and everyone who helped it back to the ocean!
Posted by Northern Illawarra on Thursday, August 1, 2019
Surf Life Saving Illawarra duty officer Anthony Turner spotted the sea snake after taking a swim with a friend. He told the Illawarra Mercury it was pretty close to their towels when they found it.
“When we came out of the water there was a sea snake about 10 meters away from our towels. It was above the high tide line,” Turner said.
Turner set up an exclusion zone around the snake while waiting for a rescue group to arrive, which drew the attention of other beachgoers. People stopped to take pictures, and one person ended up nudging the snake, which made it slither out of sight through a rock platform.
Warning ⚠️ – Elegant Sea Snake ? sighting 100 metres north of Bulli Rock Pools today.The sea snake was first sighted washed up on the southern end of Sandon Point beach this morning.Sea snakes are highly venomous…Don’t touchLifesavers kept a exclusion zone around the snake while on the beach.Thanks to the Australian Seabird Rescue Sth Coast for further advice.Video ? : Anthony Turner
Posted by Surf Life Saving Illawarra on Wednesday, July 31, 2019
When a snake catcher did arrive, they informed Turner that the snake he encountered was an elegant sea snake, which is known for being extremely venomous. The snake catcher also told Turner it was highly unusual to see a sea snake on land, and passed along these words of wisdom:
“The advice was don’t touch it, stay away and ring Australian Seabird Rescue South Coast because if a sea snake is on the beach than it usually means it is sick or injured and might need care,” Turner said. He then went on to add, “They can be dangerous and bite people.“
Thankfully the sea snake didn’t end up biting anyone. It’s scary to imagine what would have happened if someone had stumbled on it without knowing it was there.
You can learn more about the most venomous types of sea snakes by tuning in to the video below. We’re sure the people on the beach that day read up on sea snakes once they got home!