Sunday 19 May
Yellow sea snake (Hydrophis spiralis)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Yellow sea snake fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Yellow sea snake description
The longest of the true sea snakes (Hydrophiids) (2) (3), the yellow sea snake (Hydrophis spiralis) has a striking yellow or yellowish-green body, boldly marked with 30 to 60 narrow, black rings (3) (4). The head is also yellow in adults, but in young individuals it is blackish with a distinctive yellow, horseshoe-shaped mark on the top (3) (4). The jaws bear small, fixed, tubular fangs, which are used to administer powerful venom (3).
Like most sea snakes, the tail of this species is flattened and paddle-like, helping to propel the snake through the water (3) (5). Other adaptations for living in water include nostrils placed on the top of the snout, so that breathing can take place without exposing the body to aerial predators (3). The nostrils are also valved, and close when this species is submerged (5).
- Length: up to 2.75 m (2)
Yellow sea snake biology
While little is known about the biology of this particular species (4), like other sea snakes it is well-adapted for life in the marine environment, completing its entire life cycle in the water, and never voluntarily coming ashore (3) (5). Fish, such as eels, are likely to be the main source of prey for this species, which it locates among crevices in rocks and coral reefs (3) (5).
Prey is caught by means of a swift bite, which administers the fast-acting venom, thereby killing the victim and also breaking down its tissues to aid digestion (3). Sea snakes typically give birth to a small number of fully-developed live young (3) (5).Top
Yellow sea snake rangeTop
Yellow sea snake habitatTop
Yellow sea snake status
The yellow sea snake is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Yellow sea snake threatsTop
Yellow sea snake conservation
While there are no known conservation measures in place for the yellow sea snake, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is working towards a greater understanding of sea snake species found in the Arabian Gulf (8).Top
Find out more
Learn more about conservation in the Arabian Gulf:
The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi:
Learn more about reptile conservation:
International Reptile Conservation Foundation:
Authenticated (15/10/11) by Olivier S. G. Pauwels, Research Associate at the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium.
IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
- Heatwole, H. (1999) Sea Snakes: Australian Natural History Series. UNSW Press, Sydney.
- Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, United Arab Emirates.
- Levitón, A.E., Wogan, G.O.U., Koo, M.S., Zug, G.R., Lucas, R.S. and Vindum, J.V. (2003) The dangerously venomous snakes of Myanmar: Illustrated checklist with keys. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 54: 407-462.
- Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
The Reptile Database (October, 2011)
- Tomascik, T. (1997) The Ecology of the Indonesian Seas, Part 2. Tuttle Publishing, North Clarendon.
- Soorae, P.S., Das, H.S. and Al Mazrouei, H. (2006) Records of sea snakes (subfamily Hydrophiinae) from the coastal waters of the Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates. Zoology in the Middle East, 39: 109-110.
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.