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Leaf-scaled Sea Snake

Australia

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Aipysurus foliosquama

Endangered

  • Commercial trawling for fish and prawn
  • Climate change

The Leaf-Scaled Sea Snake is an endemic venomous sea snake species to Australia’s Ashmore and Cartier Islands. It was first described in 1926 as having up to 800mm in length with a purple brown colour. Its specialised diet consist of marine wrasse fish and freshwater gudgeon fish.

Commercial trawlers targeting fish, prawn, and other marine species are causing too much damage to the natural ecosystem where the Leaf-Scaled Sea Snake can be found. Aside from the obvious pollution and disruption that trawling brings, it robs the Leaf-Scaled Sea Snake of food sources that are necessary for its specialised diet and to ensure healthy reproductive habits.

As commercial trawling is conducted closer to reefs, the Leaf-Scaled Sea Snake also becomes vulnerable to being entangled or fatally injured as an incidental by-catch. When they are caught during trawling operations, they are either killed when struck by boats or left to drown.

Climate change has significant effect in water temperature and coral bleaching as well as the frequency and intensity of storms. Combined with the water contamination due to man-made activities, all of these contribute to the continued decline of its population.