Slithering Visitor Sounds Spring Warning

With a week remaining before the 2016/17patrol season gets underway beachgoers at North Avoca on the state’s Central Coast were greeted by an unexpected visitor on Saturday.

A local family were out enjoying the spring sunshine when they spotted the unusual sight of sea snake stranded on the sand just south of North Avoca Surf Club.

The marine creature was estimated to be approaching 2 metres in length and appeared to be making its way back to the ocean.

Tristan Varman Head of Reptiles at Central Coast Arc and an experienced snake catcher believed the species was an elegant sea snake, which much prefers the warmer waters of northern Australia.

“It’s unusual to see this particular type of sea snake this far south but it does happen when they get sucked down the east coast by the East Australian Current,” Mr Varman told Surf Life Saving NSW.

The East Australia Current of course was made famous by the film Finding Nemo.

“Sea snakes beach themselves when the water temperatures get too cold for them or they are in ill-heath. It’s rare for them to be beached on the Central Coast but we have seen it happen before, although this is the first reported occasion of this happening in 2016,” Mr Varman said.

Though shy in nature unless threatened, many species of sea snakes are extremely venomous and great care should be taken if one is spotted on the beach.

“I would encourage people not to approach it and to remain calm. The best thing people can do is to contact local wildlife services for advice. Sea snakes aren’t adaptable to land at all and are likely to be in distressed state,” Mr Varman said.

It’s a timely reminder that humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy the beach.

Tips For Dealing With Sea Snakes:

• Alert a lifesaver or lifeguard about the sighting
• Do not approach – respect the snake’s health and your own
• Don’t panic and remain calm
• If no lifesaving service, contact your local wildlife rescuers for advice
• Always seek medical help if bitten, regardless of the snake type
• First aid treatment is the same for a sea snake bite as for a land snake
• Don’t wash the wound, don’t move the patient, apply pressure through an immobilisation bandage and seek urgent medical help

Tips sourced from Central Coast Arc. This organisation operates in the region between the Hawkesbury and Morriset.

Photograph - The elegant sea snake was an unusual sight for beachgoers at North Avoca on Saturday 17 September 2016. Credit Melanie Fentoullis

Sat 17 Sep 2016