Updated: Aug 9, 2021
The banded sea krait, also known as Laticauda colubrina, are amphibious sea snakes that are commonly found in eastern Indian and western Pacific oceans. The term amphibious means “suited to live both on land or in the ocean.” Banded sea kraits spend most of their time in shallow waters from coral reefs to hunt. However, like most amphibious sea creatures such as sea turtles or crocodiles, banded sea kraits must come ashore to nest. Sometimes they are found on beaches but are most often found near rocky areas to shelter their eggs. Although every human knows snakes are very dangerous reptiles, the banded sea kraits are not aggressive towards humans meaning they won't attack unless they are provoked so watch your step when exploring the eastern Indian and western Pacific oceans.
Banded sea kraits have a long cylindrical body, and similar to many snakes, they have a flattened head and tail. Since banded sea kraits are amphibious they have unique paddle-like tails that help them move around in the ocean and on land. Furthermore, banded sea kraits got their name from the black and white bands along their body. These bands extend from the neck area to the tip of their tail. In addition, if you look carefully you can see banded sea kraits have yellow lips, hence their nickname yellow-lipped sea kraits. Adult males can reach around 75 cm (30 in), while females are significantly larger than males, reaching 128 cm (50 in) in length.
Habitat and Behavior
Banded sea kraits are commonly found both on land and in the ocean. Due to their amphibious nature, they do not inhabit the open sea since they would have trouble finding land to rest and hunt. Hence why they don’t travel like orcas or sea turtles. Instead, they tend to stay in one place and cluster around small islands near coral reefs. Like most snakes around the world, they can hide and fit in small spaces allowing the banded sea kraits to move their slender body through corals. Furthermore, banded sea kraits are nocturnal creatures allowing them to attack in the shadows. This makes banded sea kraits perfectly adapted to hunt eels since eels have a hard time seeing in the dark. They also tend to prey on regular small fish and crabs. Banded sea kraits don’t have many predators besides sharks, sea birds, bony fish, and hunters.
When you hear the word snake, you immediately think about their venom. According to oceana.org, “over 60 known species of sea snakes reside in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and unfortunately, all of them are venomous. In one bite, a banded sea krait can deliver roughly ten times the venom needed to kill an average-sized human.”
Although attacks are very rare and unlikely, when swimming you should always be aware of your surroundings and not provoke any creatures. Based on murexdive.com, banded sea kraits have one of the most lethal venoms in the ocean and are “10 times more powerful than that of a rattlesnake.” Their venom targets the victims’ nervous system, paralyzing them leading to cardiac heart failure which results in death. Luckily there aren’t many reported cases of attacks from banded sea kraits so you can rest easy when exploring coral reefs in eastern Indian and western Pacific oceans.