Yellow Belly Sea Snake, Pelagic Sea Snake

Yellow Belly SeaPelamis platurus

This species of snake is one of the most widely distributes reptile species. Some researchers describe the distribution of this species as “the entire tropical and subtropical Indian Ocean from the eastern coast of Africa and Madagascar to Indonesia and Australia, through the Indo-Malayan and Australian regions to extend over most of the Pacific and to the Pacific coast of Mexico, Central America and Ecuador”. They are restricted to tropical and subtropical waters. Usually, they are found within a few kilometres of the coast and prefer shallow inshore waters. They reproduce sexually in water, typically near the surface. They are ovoviviparous (live-bearing) and gestation is thought to be 5 to 6 months. Like other sea snakes, the venom of this species is highly potent however, no human fatalities from envenomation are known.


The maximum total length of this sea snake is 113 cm. Adult males grow to greater than 600mm. Body is compressed, posteriorly more than twice the diameter of the neck; body scales are juxtaposed, subquadrangular in shape. Head is narrow with an elongated snout. There is variability in terms of the snake colouration, but most often distinctly bicolored, black above, yellow or brown bellow.