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Astrotia stokesii

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA ELAPIDAE

Scientific Name: Astrotia stokesii
Species Authority: (Gray, 1846)
Common Name/s:
English Stokes' Sea Snake
French Astrotie De Stokes
Synonym/s:
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)
Justification:
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:
Native:
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:
Native:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
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).
Population Trend: Unknown

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).
Systems: Marine

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.
Citation: Sanders, K., White, M.-D., Courtney, T. & Lukoschek, V. 2010. Astrotia stokesii. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 April 2014.
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