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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Olive Sea Snake Aipysurus laevis

Plain brown or olive-brown above, with a paler underside, this common sea snake is one of six closely related species found in the reefs and shallow coastal waters of northern Australasia. Like its relatives, the olive sea snake has a cylindrical body, a flattened tail, and enlarged ventral scales—a feature normally found in snakes that spend some or all of their life on land. However, it is fully aquatic, hunting fish among the crevices and recesses of large corals. Instead of roaming throughout a reef, it often stays in the same small area of coral, rarely venturing into open water except after dark.

Olive sea snakes give birth to live young, producing up to five finger-sized offspring after a gestation period of nine months. Unlike the adults, the young are dark in color, with a boldly contrasting pattern of lighter bands. This is gradually lost as they become mature. Olive sea snakes are naturally inquisitive and often approach divers. They have short fangs and bite readily if provoked. Their venom is toxic and has been known to be fatal.

Olive Sea Snakezoom image
  • Order Squamata
  • Length 3–7 ft (1–2.2 m)
  • Weight Up to 6 lb (3 kg)
  • Habitat Coral reefs, coastal shallows, estuaries
  • Distribution Eastern Indian Ocean and western Pacific, from western Australia to New Caledonia
Olive Sea Snake habitat mapzoom image