Feeding mainly on catfish, the beaked sea snake will also feed on pufferfish and occasionally other fish or squid species (2) (4) (7) (8). Prey is thought to be located by touch and by detecting movement, rather than by vision, allowing the beaked sea snake to hunt in low-visibility waters (4) (8). Prey is swallowed whole, head first (7), after first being overcome by the snake’s powerful venom (3).
Sea snakes are among the most venomous of the world’s snakes (3), and the beaked sea snake is one of the most dangerous (1) (2). Most sea snakes rarely bite, and often do not inject much venom when they do, but this species is more aggressive than most (2). Just 1.5 milligrams of the beaked sea snake’s venom is enough to kill a human, with a full dose estimated to be enough to kill 22 people. Most fatalities from beaked sea snake bites occur where it frequently comes into contact with humans, such as in shallow estuaries or when it is removed from fishing nets (1) (4).
The beaked sea snake mates in September and October, and breeding is likely to be annual (8). Female sea snakes give birth to relatively large, live young, and this species produces the largest litter of any sea snake, giving birth to an average of 18 young, but sometimes up to 30 or more (3) (4). Mortality of young beaked sea snakes is likely to be high (4) (9), but those that survive grow rapidly. Maturity is reached at around 18 months, the female usually giving birth to the first clutch of young at around 24 months (9).