Sea snakes washing up in State’s South

Therese ColmanBusselton Dunsborough Times
VideoThe yellow-bellied sea-snake was likely taken this far south by the Leeuwin Current.

Wildlife specialists are asking beachgoers who find sea snakes to alert vets or the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and not return them to the water.

The advice follows reports of several yellow-bellied and olive-headed sea snakes washing up on Capes beaches.

Busselton Veterinary Hospital’s Dr Richard Lucas said sea snakes were generally found further north.

“Sea snakes are usually found in warmer water but not unheard of in Busselton,” he said.

“This fellow probably came down the Leeuwin Current and got cold and ended up on the beach.”

Caring for Reptiles South West president Jessica Berry agreed that sea snakes washing ashore in the South West was rare.

“For them to be down this far means they’ve gone off-course,” she said.

“It’s likely they’re dehydrated, and you can’t put them back in the sea water ... they need to be rehabilitated.”

Ms Berry said it was important for people to bring them in for immediate care.

“Mark the point where it’s found and call us, the DBCA or a vet immediately,” she said.

“If you have a towel or blanket you can wet and put on top, that’s not a bad idea but we don’t recommend you pick them up.

“They’re highly venomous and can and will bite ... we have trained snake catchers that can pick them up.”

Ms Berry said once assessed, rescued snakes are taken to Perth Zoo for rehabilitation and then to Broome for release.

If you find a sea snake, contact the Busselton Veterinary Hospital on 9752 1433, Caring for Reptiles South West on 0437 910 054 or DBCA Parks and Wildlife Service on 9725 4300.

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