Monday, October 18, 2010

Dirty Little Sea Kraits

(Alternative title: Krait Expectations)

It seems that media attention of non-charismatic species is growing. I recently had an interview with a French news site, which can be found here. Also, my wife (I’m still getting used to saying that) has taught me how to needle felt. Remember how I complained that there’s no such thing as a plush Lamprey? There is now. I would like to make more plush EUTs, but I need suggestions about which ones to create. Please leave suggestions, and I promise you’ll see them by the next post.

Image by Ryan Photographic

The Rennell Island Sea Krait (Laticauda crockeri) is like most other Sea Kraits in many ways: it uses its wide paddle tail and venomous bite to hunt fish. On the other hand, it is smaller, not striped, and, oh yeah, doesn’t live in the sea. Instead, they’re found in the brackish Lake Tegano in the Solomon Islands.

I suppose I should back up somewhat. Sea Snakes are exactly what they sound like—snakes that are well-adapted to marine life. They have large, oar-like tails for propulsion, smooth scales for less drag, big long lungs for hours of underwater hunting, and potent venom for easy hunting. Because of these traits, most of them hardly ever make it on to dry ground. Sea Kraits, however, are the least aquatically adapted of the Sea Snakes, with rougher scales and smaller tail fins that allow them to manage better on land.

Due to the small size of the range of the Rennell Island Sea Krait—that is, half of a small island in the South Pacific—it is automatically considered Vulnerable by the IUCN. However, the minimalistic human use of the island has helped keep the area pristine. While there is tourism, it seems to stay within the realm of nature observation with little impact on the ecosystem.