Featured Image Credit: Brooke L. Bessesen, Gary J. Galbreath/ZooKeys
By Sarah Sharkey
There is a new snake in the sea and its hunting style is terrifying. The new subspecies was found off the coast of Costa Rica. It captures unsuspecting fish by hanging at the surface in a coiled spring-like manner and then striking at the fish below.
This solid yellow sea snake feeds on small fish as they swim beneath it. Also, it only feeds at night. So these poor little fish literally have no idea what is coming for them. The snake is about half a meter long and likes the warm choppy waters found in Golfo Dulce in Costa Rica. The water there can warm up to 90 F and dissolved oxygen is known to fall to anoxic levels. These are harsh conditions for a snake, but this particular snake has evolved well for its environment.
For now the sea snake has been designated as a subspecies Hydrophis palturus xanthos. Brooke Bessesen and Gary Galbreath are the two researchers who conducted the analysis on these snakes. They determined that the closest living relative is Hydrophis platurus, which lived about fourteen miles away in cooler waters. The researchers think that this new subspecies may actually be its very own species, but they are happy with the subspecies designation until further research is conducted.
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