Snake catcher, Jason Arnold, has urged members of the public to avoid interfering with or picking up sea snakes that wash up along the KZN coast.
This comes after a Yellow Bellied Sea Snake washed up on uMhlanga main beach on Friday.
Arnold said he was called out to the scene by members of the public and had even seen posts on social media with some beachgoers posing with the weakened, but highly venomous snake.
“The best thing to do in these cases is contact uShaka Marine World or a snake catcher. I would advise people not to handle any snake washed up on the beach and attempt to put it back into the ocean. It will simply wash up again and this could end badly for beachgoers that may stumble upon it and could handle it.
“It would’ve been irresponsible to just set it straight back into the sea right away, because it was most likely a health problem that caused it to wash up. Generally when these snakes wash up on the shore, it’s either because of strong currents that got the better of them, or because the snake is old and weak, or sickly. This particular specimen appeared physically healthy, but it was a bit limp,” he said.
Arnold added this species of sea snake was highly venomous, but bites on people are virtually unheard of, simply because they rarely come into contact with people.
“It’s certainly not a common occurrence for these snakes to end up on the beach. In the 28 years of working with snakes, this is only the third one I have ever seen. This specimen however, is the first one I have ever been called out for. They are Pelagic and normally inhabit the deep tropical ocean waters around the world. They drift around on the water surface, but are able to hold their breath for an extended period of time and will dive down to go hunting for fish,” he explained.
The snake was handed over to uShaka Sea-World staff, who will now monitor its recovery.