A marine biologist explains why tropical species like poisonous sea snakes are found in Aotearoa


“These big rainfalls that we had a few days ago, and what we see more of with La Niña when we get these big highs off eastern New Zealand, and lows that bring all that tropical water all the way to us – it’s like a treadmill of surface ocean currents.”

Elliot said when the animals are small and need to breathe air, they stay close to the surface of the ocean instead of heading under the current.

“They’re just driven here and it’s no surprise that most summers we start to see some of these tropical species arrive.”

He said the arrival of the sea kraits is “a sign that we are getting our summer tropical water.”

But warmer water for us is not enough for these tropical species to survive.

“I don’t think anything can survive here, it’s a lot cooler, our water temperature is currently around 19 degrees, these guys have to survive above 20 degrees,” he said. -he declares.

“It’s much cooler than their usual surroundings, so they’re having a hard time staying alive.”

He said that, like most reptiles, when the sea krait is cold, it can stop moving.

“The rule of thumb here is don’t touch one, it may look dead but if it swings around and bites you… Best thing to do is call 0800 DOC HOT so we can understand their distributions,” Elliot told Newshub.

“Any compromised animal will lash out if annoyed.”

He said that even though the sea snake is highly venomous, “it’s important not to panic.”

“Stay as far away from the snake as you can.”

Watch the full interview above.


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