Dwarf Sea Snake ( Hydrophis caerulescens Shaw, 1802 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Hydrophis caerulescens (Shaw, 1802)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Many-toothed Sea Snake, Malacca Sea Snake
Kannada: 
ಕುಬ್ಜ ಕಡಲ ಹಾವು
Photographs: 
Mumbai, Maharashtra.
Distribution: 
In India its distribution is all coasts of mainland (from Gujarat to West Bengal). Also found in coasts of Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Caledonia, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Venom Type: 
Neurotoxic
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Usually confusing with other Sea Snakes having prominent bands but can be identified by checking dark color bands which are always broader than the interspace between them. 

Description: 

Maximum length- 109cm.

Body: 
Anterior body not very slender, posterior compressed and covered with strongly keeled scales. Dorsal bluish-gray, yellowish with grayish or yellowish-white belly. 40-60 broad bluish-black or gray bands found, tapers towards belly. These bands are broader than interspace between them. In old individuals bands become indistinct and body looks entirely uniform bluish-gray. They can become very faint and may form uniform grayish surface. Young have more prominent bands circled around the body. Belly scales narrower but distinct from dorsal scales. Color not much different from dorsal but have narrower bands.

Head: 
Head small and scarcely broader than neck. Color black or dark gray with yellowish markings around eyes. Moderate eyes have rounded pupil with entirely black appearance. 

Scalation
Head: 
7-8 supralabial, 2nd in contact with prefrontal, 3rd & 4th in contact with eyes; 1 preocular, 1 or rarely 2 postocular.
Dorsal: 
31-43 scales around the neck, 38–54 around the body, posterior subimbricate with truncated tips.
Ventral: 
253–334, distinct.
Habitat: 
Main habitat is shallow marine water up to 10 meter (sometimes up to 25 meter) depth. Prefers activity in sea-grass and muddy bottom.
Natural History: 
One of the excellent swimmer but helpless on ground. Behavior non-offensive but bites possible if mishandled or threatened. Viviparous. Female directly gives birth to 2-6 young individuals during post summer to mid monsoon months.
Diet: 
Feeds on eels and mudskippers of estuaries and shallow seas as major diet.
Threats: 
Direct threats are killing in fishing operations. Few individuals get trapped in fishing nets and fisherman often kill them before taking them out of net.
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