A highly venomous yellow-bellied sea snake washed up in Southern California, and a strong El Nino caused by climate change is being blamed for this unusual occurrence.
The snake is called Pelamis platurus, and it hasn’t been spotted in California since the early 1980s, also when El Nino was taking place. However, in the 80s, the snakes were found further south.
This most recent finding represents the northernmost sighting of the snake along the Pacific coast of North America.
According to reports, the snake was first found washed ashore, struggling to get back into the water. The snake had died by the time experts were able to arrive on the scene.
The yellow-bellied sea snake is known for being a very strong swimmer. It absorbs about 20% of its oxygen through its skin, allowing it to make deep sea dives. The snake can stay underwater for up to three hours.
Scientists believe that the snake in question was sick or injured, as they usually wouldn’t wash ashore. However, they believe that sea snake sightings might be more commonplace with the intense El Nino that is occurring this year. Sea animals are travelling north in search of cooler waters.
El Nino brings warmer waters to the world’s oceans, and this year’s version is noticeably strong. Many groups are already noticing the effects.
Fishermen off of San Diego’s coastline are catching bluefin tuna, yellowtail and dorado, which are all typically caught off of Mexico.
Additionally, seabirds are dying because they do not have enough fish to catch. This is because fish are diving deeper since deeper waters are more temperate. Also, crabs are dying because they end up being washed ashore while trying to escape the hot ocean waters.
Experts have stated that while El Nino isn’t actually caused by climate change, this year’s occurrence is particularly stronger than average because of the effects of climate change. Additionally, scientists believe that El Nino will continue to strengthen in the future, as climate change becomes a growing phenomenon.
While, the single event of a sea snake washing ashore in an unusual area isn’t a major concern, it does show that climate change is having a real effect on the world.