Sustainability Environment

Highly venomous, sexually aroused sea snakes attack human divers

(tswinner/iStock)

Story at a glance

  • Scuba divers being charged by venomous sea snakes may be a case of mistaken identity, according to a new report.
  • Researchers studied 1994-95 data on olive sea snake behavior when interacting with humans and found most contact occurred during mating season.
  • Researchers believe that the male snakes are mistaking divers as rivals or potential mates, whereas the female snakes are using the divers as a way to flee and hide.

Cases of scuba divers being charged by venomous sea snakes may be a case of mistaken identity, according to a new report.

Published Thursday in Scientific Reports, researchers studied 1994-1995 data on olive sea snake behavior when interacting with humans. Of the 158 encounters, researchers found that 74 involved the snake approaching the diver and a majority of these encounters occurred during mating season. In 13 of these instances, the olive sea snake charged the diver, and each occurred during mating season. 

When male sea snakes charged, it was noted it was following a face-off with a male rival or after a failed pursuit of a female snake. Three times this took place, the snake began to wrap itself around the diver’s fin — an act of coiling that typically takes place during the mating process.


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


As for the female snakes, they were found to have charged the diver after being pursued first by a male snake.

Researchers believe that the male snakes are mistaking divers as rivals or potential mates, whereas the female snakes are using the divers as a way to flee and hide from males pursuing them.

“By staying still and allowing a sea snake to investigate them with its tongue,” Scientific Reports noted in a news release, “a diver is unlikely to escalate the encounter and be bitten.”


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

AMAZING VIDEO CAPTURES RARELY SEEN YELLOW WHALES

VIDEO CATCHES TERRIFYING MOMENT A COLORADO HIKER WAS CHARGED BY ENORMOUS BULL MOOSE

WISCONSIN FAMILY CATCHES STRANGE, ‘SUPER RARE’ FISH IN FLORIDA WATERS

YELLOWSTONE TOURIST FACING FEDERAL CHARGES FOR GRIZZLY BEAR PHOTO

RARE ATTACK BY BLACK BEAR LEAVES 26-YEAR-OLD WOMAN DEAD