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Frisky venomous sea snakes are confusing divers for their mates

Divers frequently report sea snake interactions involving chasing and biting, the cause of which was previously unclear.

Now a study is published in the journal Scientific reports shows that male sea snakes may think of divers as potential rivals or mates, while female snakes think they may be hiding places.

The study used data collected by co-author Tim Lynch describing encounters with olive sea snakes in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, from 1994-95.

In 74 of 158 encounters, sea snakes approached Lynch, and this was more common during the May-August mating season.

Study co-author Rick Shine, professor of biological sciences at Macquarie University, Sydney, during this period male sea snakes seek out females and begin courting them as soon as they see them.

Olive sea snakes are abundant around certain reef areas.

This mostly involved stroking a woman’s body with his tongue to test the chemicals on her skin to make sure she was the right species and gender, Shine added.

“Then, aligning his body with hers, maybe wrapping coils around her to hold her in place so he can position himself for intercourse,” Shine said. “But the females usually don’t care, so they run away and hide in the coral.”

Male sea snakes tend to approach divers more than females, especially during mating season, according to research.

In some cases, they flicked their tongues at the diver, and in 13 cases, they lunged at the diver. When a male sea snake lunges at a diver, it will rush in after an unsuccessful female chase or after interacting with a rival male.

Charged females were observed after they were chased by males, or interacted with divers before losing track.

Grandma scuba diving to discover deadly large sea snake population in famous bay

In three cases, the male sea snake coiled around the diver’s fin, which is often observed during courtship.

“These models suggest that sea snake ‘attacks’ on humans are due to mistaken identity during sex,” the study said.

Sea snakes can have trouble identifying shapes underwater, according to previous research.

“Like dogs, snakes rely primarily on scent, not eyesight, to figure out what’s going on in the world around them,” Shine said. special organ in the roof of the mouth.

Shine said the large sea snakes are potentially deadly to humans.

“Having a giant snake rush towards you and start examining you can be life-threatening even if the snake isn’t trying to bite you,” he added. “Fear to death.”

The team suggested that divers should stand still and let the sea snake investigate them using its tongue.

“Our research shows that staying calm is key. The snake doesn’t attack you,” Shine told CNN. “He just thinks you might be a female snake. And once he realizes he’s not, he’ll wander off looking for love elsewhere.”

The study was published on Thursday.


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