2 'Extinct' Sea Snakes Discovered Off Australian Coast

2 'Extinct' Sea Snakes Discovered Off Australian Coast


From L. Geggel



Two courting short-nosed sea snakes (Aipysurus apraefrontalis). Credit: Grant Griffin | Western Australia Parks and Wildlife Service

Two species of venomous sea snakes that were thought to be extinct have been discovered slithering off the coast of western Australia.

The brownish-purple leaf-scaled sea snake (Aipysurus foliosquama) and the yellowish-brown short-nosed sea snake (Aipysurus apraefrontalis) once lived among the Ashmore and Hibernia reefs in the Timor Sea, but disappeared between 1998 and 2002, the researchers said.

In fact, intensive reef surveys carried out between 2001 and 2012 failed to find a single A. foliosquama or A. apraefrontalis in those reefs,according to the scientific communication website The Conversation. After that, both species were listed as critically endangered, first by theInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2010, and next by Australia's threatened species legislation in 2011, and many scientists presumed they were extinct.