Laticauda laticaudata 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Elapidae

Scientific Name: Laticauda laticaudata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Blackbanded Sea Krait, Brown-lipped Sea Krait
French Plature A Bandes
Coluber laticaudatus Linnaeus, 1758
Taxonomic Notes: There has been some discussion regarding two possible subspecies L. l. laticaudata (see Rasmussen 1989) and L. l. affinus (Anderson, 1871) (see Heatwole et al. 2005) though most authorities treat L. laticaudata as a single lineage. The Reptile Database lists a third subspecies L. l. wolfii Volsoe, 1956.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-02-15
Assessor(s): Lane, A., Guinea, M., Lobo, A. & Gatus, J.
Reviewer(s): Livingstone, S.R., Elfes, C.T., Polidoro, B.A. & Carpenter, K.E. (Global Marine Species Assessment Coordinating Team)
This species is widespread and common in suitable habitat. Coastal development and sea level rise are threats, but currently are not causing significant population declines. It is listed as Least Concern.



Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Found along the coast of northeastern India, east to Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the islands of the southwestern Pacific Ocean, northwards to China, Taiwan, and Japan (Heatwole 1999). It can also be found in New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands (Ineich and Rasmussen 1997).

In India it is only recorded from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but it is much less common as compared to L. colubrina (A. Lobo pers. comm.).

Countries occurrence:
Bangladesh; Cambodia; China; Fiji; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia; Myanmar; New Caledonia; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):80
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species has a patchy distribution, but is found in high abundance in suitable habitat.

While mark-recapture work indicates that this species displays high site fidelity (Brichoux et al. 2009), genetic analyses show that it may actually disperse long distances and there is no genetic signature of natal homing. Dispersal distances are larger than for L. colubrina or L. saintgironsi and this may reflect a reduced reliance on terrestrial habitats in L. laticaudata (Lane et al. in prep).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found on coral islands, coral reefs, mangroves and in open ocean. It feeds on eels (Heatwole 1999). It is usually found at a depth of 0-15 m (Cogger 2007). It has been recorded to dive to depths greater than 80 m (Brischoux et al. 2009). Beach rocks are thought to be an important habitat when on land.

Sea snakes of the genus Laticauda are amphibious to some degree, leaving the water regularly. Oviparous females deposit their eggs on land (Guinea 1994).

This species is more aquatic in its habits than its congener L. colubrina and this is reflected in its more slender bodied morphology and reduced capacity for terrestrial locomotion (Shine et al. 2002). Accordingly, while L. colubrina can travel quite far inland, L. laticaudata does not stray more than approximately five meters from the waters edge (Lane and Shine in prep).


Systems:Terrestrial; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Major threats may include anthropogenic disturbances such as coastal development and habitat destruction. Probably faced with similar threats as Laticauda colubrina (A. Lobo pers. comm.).

Amphibious Laticaudine sea kraits predominantly utilize the inter-tidal region whilst on land and require suitable cover (such as beach rocks) 1-4 meters from the waters edge (Saint Girons 1964, Ineich and LaBoute 2002, A. Lane pers. comm). If suitable habitat in the inter-tidal region is lost due to rising sea levels associated with global warming (Meehl et al. 2005, Bindoff et al. 2007), this is expected to constitute a direct threat. Furthermore, Laticauda spp. have specific oviposition requirements which have been recorded only rarely (Bacolod 1983, M. Guinea pers. comm.). In these instances egg laying was observed in rocky inter-tidal caves, accessible to kraits only at certain tides. If sea level changes prevent access to suitable laying sites, or render these sites unusable, this would also directly threaten the persistence of Laticaudine sea kraits.

This species is strongly associated with coral reefs and the degradation of this habitat is likely to pose a threat to species persistence. Mass coral bleaching occurs in association with episodes of elevated sea surface temperature and results in significant losses of live coral (Hoegh-Guldberg 1999). This reduces habitat complexity, with a consequent decrease in prey abundance (Pratchett et al. 2008) and the loss of refuge sites. Climate change may thus threaten all sea snakes which are coral reef specialists (Francis 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species specific conservation measures for this species, but it may occur in marine protected areas, for example in the sea snake sanctuary at Gato Island, Cebu and Pulo Laum, Zamboanga in the Philippines (J. Gatus pers. comm. 2009). These parks are dependent on tourism for their protection.

It is important that conservation actions for snakes in the genus Laticauda take into account both their marine and terrestrial habitat requirements.

No sea snake species is currently listed by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Citation: Lane, A., Guinea, M., Lobo, A. & Gatus, J. 2010. Laticauda laticaudata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T176771A7301306. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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