Laticauda saintgironsi

Saint Giron's sea krait

Laticauda saintgironsi
(Cogger & Heatwole, 2006)

Saint Giron's sea krait. photo credit: Tricot Rayé (public domain)
Image attribution
Saint Giron's sea krait. photo credit: Tricot Rayé (public domain)
Herpetofaunal category
Marine Reptiles
Species complex
Conservation Status
Non-resident Native - Vagrant
Common names
Saint Giron's sea krait

Length: Typically, 0.8-1.1 m, but can reach lengths of up to 1.6 m.

Weight

Description

A distinctive species of marine snake with beautiful bright brown-orange, and black banding running along the entirety of its body, fading into cream on the undersides and on the facial mask. It has only been observed in New Zealand waters on one occasion.
 

Identification

Distinguished from the yellow-lipped sea krait, and brown-lipped sea krait by its brown-orange banding, as opposed to the steel blue tones of the former species. Can be differentiated from the yellow-bellied sea snake by general morphology (blunt vs. flattened elongate head) and patterning (banded vs. striped).
 

Distribution

The Saint Giron’s sea krait is restricted to the waters around New Caledonia, and the Loyalty Islands.
An extremely rare visitor to New Zealand, this species is only known from a single individual.
 

Diet

Primarily an eel-specialist, although they are known to prey upon other small fish species.
 

Ecology and Habitat

A semi-aquatic species, the Saint Giron’s sea krait as with other Laticauda species spends a significant amount of time on land where it has been known to travel to elevations greater than 100 metres asl. They are often associated with the shallow waters surrounding islands, and coral reefs where they can be seen hunting for prey at night.
 

Life Expectancy

Not known.
 

Social Structure

This species is typically solitary, although they can be found in large aggregations (100 or more) in refuge sites.
 

Breeding Biology

Saint Giron’s sea krait do not breed in New Zealand.
They are oviparous (egg-laying), with females depositing clutches of between 4-19 eggs into sheltered crevices in the littoral zone. The young hatch after approximately 4½ months.
 

Disease and threats

Saint Giron’s sea krait are host to several reptilian diseases and parasites including the sea snake tick (Amblyomma nitidum).
 

References

Gill, B. J. (1997). Records of turtles and sea snakes in New Zealand, 1837–1996. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research31(4), 477-486.

van Winkel, D., Baling, M., & Hitchmough, R. (2018). Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand: A Field Guide. Auckland University Press, pp376.