SPECIES: Aipysurus apraefrontalis — Short-nosed Seasnake

CLASSIFICATION: Critically endangered

We endeavour to find and report the interesting facts about our threatened native species that make each of them unique, memorable and unforgettable. The Short-nosed Seasnake is no exception. The male Short-nosed Seasnake is blessed with two autonomous, fully functioning and independent penises. They are equipped with only one lung, which is elongated and runs almost the entire length of their body. They also shed their skin every 2-6 weeks, much more frequently than a land snake will do. Although fully aquatic, the Short-nosed Seasnake is an air-breathing reptile able to be underwater for up to 2 hours at a time before returning to the surface for air. How unique, memorable and quite unforgettable.

The Short-nosed Seasnake is small and slender, brown in colour with corssbands of purplish brown over its body. They are slow growing, only around 60cm when fully grown. Endemic to WA, the Short-nosed Seasnake preys on eels and fish found in and around the reef flats and shallow waters. As recently as the late 1990's, it was the third most common seasnake recorded at the Ashmore Reef. Over recent years, it's a worry that sightings of the Short-nosed Seasnake are now quite rare. In addition to habitat degradation, the Short-nosed Seasnake is also threatened by human activities including boating, commercial fishing and trawling, and genetically having a slow reproductive rate.

Photo Kate L. Sanders, Tina Schroeder, Michael L. Guinea, and Arne R. Rasmussen.

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