|Scientific Name:||Laticauda colubrina|
|Species Authority:||(Schneider, 1799)|
Hydrus colubrinus Schneider, 1799
|Taxonomic Notes:||Before 2006, L. saintigironsi (endemic to New Caledonia), L. guineai (endemic to southern Papua New Guinea), and L. frontalis (a dwarf species endemic to Vanuatu) were considered to be the same species as L. colubrina (Heatwole et al. 2005, Cogger and Heatwole 2006).|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Least Concern ver 3.1|
|Assessor/s:||Lane, A., Guinea, M., Gatus, J. & Lobo, A.|
|Reviewer/s:||Livingstone, S.R., Elfes, C.T., Polidoro, B.A. & Carpenter, K.E. (Global Marine Species Assessment Coordinating Team)|
This is a very widespread species. Although there are some threats, these do not appear to be causing significant declines at this time. Sea level rise may become an important threat to this species in the future. This is listed as Least Concern.
L. colubrina is one of the most widespread members of the genus Laticauda (Heatwole et al. 2005). It is found along the coasts of eastern India and Andaman Islands, east through Malaysia, Indonesia, and northward to Viet Nam and southern China, Taiwan, and the Ryuku Islands of Japan. Also found in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Philippines, Palau to the islands of the southwestern Pacific Ocean stretching to Fiji, Vanuatu and Niue. This species has been known to stray to Australia and New Zealand, though there is no evidence of breeding populations in these locations (Heatwole 1999).
This species is common on several of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but it has rarely been spotted off islands near the Indian mainland (e.g. Grande Island in Goa) (A. Lobo pers. comm. 2009).
There have been unconfirmed sightings of this species near the western coast of Central America.
Native:American Samoa (American Samoa); Cambodia; China; Fiji; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia; Micronesia, Federated States of; Myanmar; Niue; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Samoa; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Tonga; Vanuatu; Viet Nam
Vagrant:Australia; New Caledonia; New Zealand
|FAO Marine Fishing Areas:||
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
This species has a patchy distribution and can be highly abundant in the locations where it is found.
A population estimate from a small (0.5 km²) rocky island in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, found approximately 721 individuals, with males outnumbering females 4 to 1 (Lading et al. 1991).
|Habitat and Ecology:||
L. colubrina is found in a wide range of habitats, including coral islands, coral reefs, mangroves, and in the open ocean. It feeds on eels (Heatwole 1999), and is usually found in shallow waters from 0-10 m depth (Cogger 2007).
The animals feed on eels in shallow coastal waters and return to land to rest, slough their skin and digest their prey (Shetty and Shine 2002b). On land they shelter in vegetation, under beach rocks, in crevices and caves. This species is more terrestrial in its habits than its congener, L. laticaudata, and this is reflected in its heavier bodied morphology and superior terrestrial locomotor abilities (Shine et al. 2003).
Oviparous females deposit their eggs on land (Guinea 1994) though interestingly, these eggs are very rarely encountered in the wild, with possibly only two nests reported over the entire distribution of the species. Their reproductive habits can therefore be considered highly secretive.
Females are larger and heavier-bodied than males (up to three times as heavy in Fiji; Pernetta 1977) and this sexual dimorphism is reflected in different diets, with females feeding on larger conger eels, while males feed predominantly on smaller moray eels (Shetty and Shine 2002c).
Populations of L. colubrina in Fiji have displayed strong site fidelity, with animals on islands separated by less than six kilometres remaining essentially separate (Shetty and Shine 2002a). Similar site fidelity has been recorded in New Caledonia, though this has not resulted in genetic differentiation between island sites separated by distances of up to 100 km (Lane 2009).
The major threats to this species may include anthropogenic disturbances such as coastal development and habitat destruction. This includes loss of shore habitats required for laying eggs and digesting prey. This species is attracted to light and may be affected by lighting from hotels and beach shacks in developing areas (A. Lobo pers. comm.). There is anecdotal evidence that resort developments on some Fijian islands may have reduced population sizes of L. colubrina (M. Guinea pers. comm. cited by Marsh et al. 1993).
Locals in the Andaman Islands suggest that this species was killed for food by Karen migrants from Myanmar, however, there is no confirmed evidence of this. Harvested as smoked sea snake in the Philippines and exported to Japan. This threat is localised to Cebu and Leyte Province (J. Gatus pers. comm. 2009).
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).
There are no species-specific conservation measures for this species, but it does occur in marine protected areas. In the Philippines there are two declared sea snake sanctuaries in Gato Island, Cebu and Pulo Laum, Zamboanga (J. Gatus pers. comm. 2009).
Conservation of Laticauda snakes should take into account both their marine and terrestrial habitat requirements.
Bacolod, P.T. 1983. Reproductive biology of two sea snakes of the genus Laticauda from the central Philippines. The Philippine Scientist 21: 155-163.
Cogger, H. 2007. Marine Snakes. In: T. Vickey and S. Keable (eds), Description of Key Species Groups in the East Marine Region, pp. 80-94. Australian Museum.
Cogger, H.G. and Heatwole, H.F. 2006. Laticauda frontalis (de Vis, 1905) and Laticauda saintgironsi n.sp. from Vanuatu and New Caledonia (Serpentes: Elapidae: Laticaudinae) - a new lineage of Sea Kraits? Records of the Australian Museum 58(2006): 245-256.
Francis, E.J. 2006. Morphology, population and distribution of the Dusky Seasnake Aipysurus fuscus. University of Wollongong.
Guinea, M.L. 1986. Aspects of the biology of the common Fijian sea snake Laticauda colubrina. University of the South Pacific.
Guinea, M.L. 1994. Sea Snakes of Fiji and Niue. In: P. Gopalakrishnakone (ed.), Sea Snakes Toxinology, pp. 212. NUS Press, Singapore.
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. 1999. Sea Snakes. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida.
Heatwole, H., Busack, S. and Cogger, H. 2005. Geographic variation in Sea Kraits of the Laticauda columbrina complex (Serpentes: Elapidae: Hydrophiinae: Laticaudini). Herperological Monographs 19(2005): 1-136.
Hoegh-Guldberg, O. 1999. Climate change, coral bleaching and the future of the world's coral reefs. Marine and Freshwater Research 50: 839-866.
Ineich, I. and LaBoute, P. 2002. Sea snakes of New Caledonia. IRD, Paris.
Ineich, I. and Rasmussen, A.R. 1997. Sea snakes from New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands (Elapidae, Laticaudinae and Hydrophiinae). Zoosystema 19(2-3): 185-191.
IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.4). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 27 October 2010).
Lading, E.A., Stubing, R.B. and Voris, H.K. 1991. A population size estimate of the yellow-lipped sea krait, Laticauda colubrina, on Kalampunian Damit Island, Sabah, Malaysia. Copeia 1991(4): 1139-1142.
Lane, A.M. 2009. Ecology and genetic diversity of Laticaudine sea kraits. PhD thesis. University of Sydney.
Meehl, G.A., Washington, W.M., Collines, W.D., Arblaster, J.M., Hu, A.X., Buja, L.E., Strand, W.G. and Teng, H.Y. 2005. How much more global warming and sea leve rise? Science 307: 1769-1772.
Pernetta, J.C. 1977. Observations on the habits and morphology of the sea snake Laticauda columbrina (Schneider) in Fiji. Canadian Journal of Zoology 55: 1612-1619.
Pratchett, M.S., Munday, P.L., Wilson, S.K., Graham, N.A.J., Cinner, J.E., Bellwood, D.R., Jones, G.P., Polunin, N.V.C. and McClanahan, T.R. 2008. Effects of climate-induced coral bleaching on coral reef fishes - Ecological and economic consequences. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review 46: 251-296.
Saint Girons, H. 1964. Notes on the ecology and population structure of the Laticaudinae (Serpentes, Hydrophidae) in New Calendonia. La Terre et la Vie 2-1964: 185-214.
Shetty, S. and Shine, R. 2002a. Philopatry and homing behaviour of sea snakes (Laticauda colubrina) from two adjacent islands in Fiji. Conservation Biology 16: 1422-1426.
Shetty, S. and Shine, R. 2002b. Activity patterns of yellow-lipped sea kraits (Laticauda colubrina) on a Fijian island. Copeia 1: 77-85.
Shetty, S. and Shine, R. 2002c. Sexual divergence in diets and morphology in Fijian sea snakes Laticauda colubrina (Laticaudinae). Austral Ecology 27: 77-84.
Shine, R., Cogger, H.G., Reed, R.N., Shetty, S. and Bonnet, X. 2003. Aquatic and terrestrial locomotor speeds of amphibious sea-snakes (Serpentes, Laticaudidae). Journal of Zoology 259(3): 261-268.
Stuebing, R. and Voris, H.K. 1990. Relative abundance of marine snakes on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysia. Journal of Herpetology 24(2): 201-202.
|Citation:||Lane, A., Guinea, M., Gatus, J. & Lobo, A. 2010. Laticauda colubrina. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 May 2013.|
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