Astrotia stokesii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Elapidae

Scientific Name: Astrotia stokesii (Gray, 1846)
Common Name(s):
English Stokes' Sea Snake
French Astrotie De Stokes
Hydrus stokesii Gray, 1846

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-02-15
Assessor(s): Sanders, K., White, M.-D., Courtney, T. & Lukoschek, V.
Reviewer(s): Livingstone, S.R., Elfes, C.T., Polidoro, B.A. & Carpenter, K.E. (Global Marine Species Assessment Coordinating Team)
This is a widespread species that is abundant in some parts of its range. It is captured as bycatch in trawl fisheries although this is not thought to be a major threat. It can live in a variety of habitat types. It is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is found in the Arabian Gulf, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia east to China and the Australian - New Guinean continental shelf (Heatwole 1999). It has also been collected in south Viet Nam (Karin 1984) and the Sibuyan Sea, Philippines (Dunson and Minton 1978).

It has been recorded from the waters of Pakistan (Mertens 1969). No specimens have been collected from Indian waters, though the species likely occurs there  (A. Lobo pers. comm.2009).

It has been reported that this species occurs in three main subpopulations that may be reproductively isolated (west of India, in the Natuna Sea, and in Australia).
Countries occurrence:
Bangladesh; Cambodia; China; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Japan; Malaysia; Myanmar; New Caledonia; Oman; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Singapore; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; United Arab Emirates; Viet Nam
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):50
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:One characteristic of this species is that individuals do not occur in large aggregations, but at low densities in the locations where they are found (V. Lukoschek pers. comm. 2009).

This is an uncommon species on the east coast of Australia and made up one per cent of the catch in the Queensland prawn fisheries (out of 4,000 individuals caught (Courtney et al. 2010). It is relatively common in the northern prawn fishery in Australia.

This species represented 23 out of 83 sea snakes collected from fishermen as bycatch in Makassar, South Sulawesi (K. Sanders and Mumpuni pers. comms. 2010).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This is a generalist species and lives in a number of habitat types. This species occurs around reefs and in harbours over mud and sand substrates from 3.8-25 m (McCosker 1975, Minton and Dunson 1985, Limpus 1975, Redfield et al. 1978). It forages among corals (Heatwole 1975b) and eats fish (Voris 1972). It specializes on Gobiidae and similar fishes (Voris and Voris 1983) and juvenile stonefish (McCosker 1975).

This is the heaviest sea snake species reaching more than 2 kg (Marsh et al. 1993). There is a record of one weighing 5.144 kg from the Gulf of Carpentaria (caught on the 8th November 2005 in the Gulf of Carpentaria) (M. White pers. comm. 2009).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:



Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is captured as bycatch in trawl fisheries. They are captured in a range of trawl fisheries in Queensland due to their ability to live in varied habitat types (T. Courtney pers. comm. 2009). This characteristic is atypical for Hydrophiine sea snakes and could potentially make it more difficult to detect population declines or local extinctions (V. Lukoschek pers. comm. 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

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

Sea snakes are protected in Australia since their addition to the "Listed Marine Species" by the Department of Environment and Water Resources in 2000. They are protected in Australia under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999. This requires that all Australian industries interacting with protected species, directly or indirectly, demonstrate sustainability for the species impacted by their activities (Milton et al. 2008).

The Fisheries Management Act 1991 requires fishing efforts to avoid captures of threatened and protected species such as sea snakes.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.2. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.6. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Muddy
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.11. Artificial/Marine - Marine Anthropogenic Structures

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.5. Threats

Bibliography [top]

Courtney, A. J., Schemel, B.C., Wallace, R., Campbell, M.J., Mayer D.G. and Young, B. 2010. Reducing the impact of Queensland's trawl fisheries on protected sea snakes. Fisheries Research and Development Coorporation (FRDC) Project #2005/053 Final Report.

Dunson, W.A. and Minton, S.A. 1978. Diversity, distribution, and ecology of Philippine Marine Snakes (Reptilia, Serpentes). Journal of Herpetology 12(3): 281-286.

Guinea, M.L. 2007. Marine Snakes: Species Profile for the North-western Planning Area. Report for the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT.

Heatwole, H. 1975. Sea snakes found on reefs in teh southern Coral Sea (Saumarez, Swains, Cato Island). In: W.A. Dunson (ed.), The Biology of Sea Snakes, pp. 163-171. University Park Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

Heatwole, H. 1999. Sea Snakes. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.4). Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2010).

Kharin, V.E. 1984. On Three Species of Sea Snakes, For the First Time Found in the Waters of Vietnam, with Remarks on a Rare Form of Praescutata viperina. Biologiya Morya (Vladivostok) 2: 26–30.

Limpus, C.J. 1975. Coastal sea snakes of subtropical Queensland waters (23° to 28° south latitude). In: W.A. Dunson (ed.), The Biology of Sea Snakes, pp. 173-182. University Park Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

Marsh, H., Corkeron, P.J., Limpus, C.J., Shaughnessy, P.D. and Ward, T.M. 1993. Conserving marine mammals and reptiles in Australia and Oceania. In: C. Moritz and J. Kikkawa (eds), Conservation Biology in Australia and Oceania, pp. 225-244. Surrey, Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton.

McCosker, J.E. 1975. Feeding behavior of Indo-Australian Hydrophiidae. In: W.A. Dunson (ed.), Biology of Sea Snakes, pp. 217-232. University Park Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

Mertens, R. 1969. Die Amphibien und Reptilien West-Pakistans. Stuttgarter Beitrage zur Naturkunde.

Minton, S.A. and Dunson, W.A. 1985. Sea snakes collected at Chesterfield Reefs, Coral Sea. Atoll Research Bulletin 292: 101-108.

Redfield, J.A., Holmes, J.C. and Holmes, R.D. 1978. Sea snakes of the eastern Gulf of Carpentatria. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 29(3): 325-334.

Tomascik, T. 1997. The Ecology of the Indonesian Seas. Tuttle Publishing.

Voris, H.K. 1972. The role of sea snakes (Hydrophiidae) in the trophic structure of coastal ocean communities. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India 14(2): 429-442.

Citation: Sanders, K., White, M.-D., Courtney, T. & Lukoschek, V. 2010. Astrotia stokesii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T176708A7287333. . Downloaded on 24 April 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided