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Poisonous animals
 
Cnidarians (Jellyfish, Corals and Anemones)
 
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Sea snakes
 
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Genus/Species

 

Astrotia stokesii, Stoke's sea snake

Clinical entries

Taxonomy

Serpentes; Elapidae; Hydrophiinae

Common names

Stoke's sea snake

Distribution

From the west coast of India to coastal areas of Southeast Asia, Indonesia and southwest New Guinea, as far as the north and east coast of Australia.




Map 6 Astrotia stokesii.

Biology

The only species in this genus. Found primarily in reef areas, but never in great numbers anywhere in its area of distribution. Colouring from beige and grey to almost black. Stout body with a length of up to 1.6 m. Broad head and long fangs (up to 7 mm) compared to other Hydrophiidae. The fangs are adapted to penetrate the tough skin of stonefishes and toadfishes, their main prey.

Like Enhydrina schistosa, Astrotia can bite aggressively when desperate (if handled or unintentionally trodden upon). This type of defensive behaviour appears to be milder or not present at all in most other sea snake species.

Risk

Astrotia possesses large quantities of venom compared to other Hydrophiinae. Only 2 documented accidents are known, both from Australia. Both cases of envenoming took a severe course and required antivenom treatment (Mercer et al. 1981, Audley 1985).

Literature (biological)

Cogger 1975, 1987, 2000, Dunson 1975b, Heatwole 1975, Limpus 1975, Minton 1975, O'Shea 2005