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Rare, Highly Venomous Sea Snake Found in Iranian Coastal Waters

Oct 11, 2016 04:20 AM EDT
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Günther's Sea Snake, Iranian Coastal Waters
Günther's sea snake is caught in Iranian coastal waters of the western Gulf of Oman.
(Photo : Mohsen Rezaie-Atagholipour/CC-BY 4.0/Press Release Image/EurekAlert)

Scientists are now updating the checklist and identification tool of sea snakes in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman as they discovered a rarely seen species of highly venomous viviparous sea snakes in the Iranian coastal waters off the western Gulf of Oman.

During a field survey carried out in 2013 and 2014 in the Iranian coastal waters, the scientists caught an adult Günther's sea snake using a fishing trawler off the western Gulf of Oman. The scientists were surprised when they caught the sea snake because the area they are surveying is more than 400 kilometers away from the westernmost boundary of its previously known range.

Read: Double Headed Monster! Rare Two-Headed Snake Found in Texas

According to a press release, Günther's sea snake is a rare species of sea snake that was only recorded to be observed in coastal waters of few countries in the western Malay Peninsula and the Indian Subcontinent. Discovered by German-born British zoologist, Albert Günther in 1864, Günther's sea snake is known for its very small head compared to its body size, gaining the name Günther's narrow/small-headed sea snake.

At present, there are about 60 living species of highly venomous sea snakes around the world. Sea snakes are currently distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region. Before the discovery of the Günther's sea snake in the Iranian coastal waters, there are nine previously recorded distribution areas of sea snakes in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. The Günther's sea snake found in the Iranian coastal waters is the first recorded sighting of the sea snake in the area.

Günther's sea snake is considered to be rare under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list. However, current data of the sea snake is insufficient to be classified under a Red list category or criteria. The scientist published their updated checklist and identification tool for the Günther's sea snake in journal Zookeys.

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