Heal The Bay, a Southern California environmental group focused on restoring the Santa Monica Bay, is sounding the alarm about a highly toxic ocean traveler being twice found late this week on a beach in Oxnard — the first sightings in 30 years.
The yellow-bellied sea snake is considered an exotic species, descended from Asian cobras and tiger snakes from Australia. Although it’s a water snake, it can stay on land for more than an hour. Two separate sightings were made last week on the Silver Strand beach in Oxnard.
The snake normally thrives in warm tropical waters, but this isn’t their first visit here. In the early 80s during an earlier ocean warming cycle, several were spotted in southern California as well.
Scientists hope anyone who spots one now will report the sighting. People are advised to stay from striking distance, take a photo and jot down the specifics, and report any findings in the state to iNaturalist and Herp Mapper.
Here is the official warning from Heal the Bay:
“Recent sightings of the yellow-bellied sea snake have been reported and scientists need your help to confirm this very rare occurrence.
This species is highly venomous; do not attempt to handle or interact with the snake if you see one. Do take as many photos as possible. Do try and get accurate location information.
Your data will be used to confirm this El Nino year as the first in 30 years this fascinating animal has been in our water.”