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Target Species: Seasnakes, Hydrophiinae
Location: Weipa, Queensland, and Hibernia and Ashmore Reefs, off Broome, Western Australia
Director: Roger Finnigan


Location: Weipa, Queensland and Ashmore & Hibernia Reefs, WA.

Mission Statement:

Seasnakes are amongst the most venomous snakes in the world. The only antivenom for seasnake bite is produced in Australia but the raw venom required for production is in short supply. A captive population of seasnakes could provide a continual venom supply but unfortunately most species do not survive long in captivity. What is required is a species that not only provides adequate quantities of venom but also has the capacity to thrive in captivity. Mark is joined by herpetologist and seasnake specialist Brian Grieg Fry. Together they venture to Weipa in Far North Queensland, from where they can make nocturnal forays out into the Hay River estuary to net seasnakes including the Beaked seasnake, Enhydrina schistosa, the species currently used for antivenom production but a species which fares extremely badly in captivity, and aggressive Hardwicke’s seasnake, Lapemis hardwickei.

From Queensland, Mark and Brian travel to Broome in Western Australia to board the Kimberley Quest on which they journey 36 hours north-westwards to the Hibernia and Ashmore Reefs, located closer to Indonesia than Australia. Mark has learned to dive specifically to enable him to join Brian investigating what has become known as the ‘Seasnake Capital of the World’. There are more seasnake species here than anywhere else on Earth. But diving can be a dangerous business, as Mark finds out.


The highly venomous Beaked seasnake (Enhydrina schistosa) is an inhabitant of soft-muddy estuaries.

Species recorded during 'Sea Serpents'

Species Common Name
BUFONIDAE TRUE TOADS
Bufo marinus Cane toad
HYLIDAE TREEFROGS
Litoria infrafrenata White-lipped treefrog
Litoria nasuta Rocket frog
RANIDAE TRUE FROGS
Rana daemeli Damel's pond frog
CHELONIIDAE SEA TURTLES
Chelonia mydas Green sea turtle
GEKKONIDAE GECKOES
Hemidactylus frenatus Common house gecko
Heteronotia binoei Bynoe's gecko
SCINCIDAE SKINKS
Carlia longipes Long-legged four-fingered skink
Cryptoblepharus virgatus Cream-striped snake-eyed skink
AGAMIDAE DRAGONS
Lophura temporalis Twin-striped lashtail dragon
ACROCHORDIDAE FILENAKES
Acrochordus granulatus Little filesnke
COLUBRIDAE TYPICAL SNAKES
Tropidonophis mairii mairii Eastern common keelback
ELAPIDAE COBRAS & THEIR KIN
Acalyptophis peronii Peron's spiny seasnake
Aipysurus apraefrontalis Short-headed seasnake
Aipysurus eydouxii Eydoux's seasnake
Aipysurus duboisii Dubois' seasnake
Aipysurus foliosquama Leaf-scaled seasnake
Aipysurus fuscus Dusky seasnake
Aipysurus laevis Olive seasnake
Emydocephalus annulatus Turtle-headed seasnake
Enhydrina schistosa Beaked seasnake
Hydrophis elegans Elegant seasnake
Lapemis hardwickii Hardwicke's seasnake


Location: Weipa in Far North Queensland, location for lanterning for seasnakes.


Location: Ashmore & Hibernia Reefs, 36 hrs from Broome, WA, diving locations.

 


Mark O’Shea and American seasnake specialist Brian Fry lantern and net seasnakes in the Hay-Embley estuary near Weipa.

 

 


O’Shea with an Elegant seasnake (Hydrophis elegans) caught the night before.

 

 


Diving on Ashmore Reef O’Shea captures an Olive seasnake (Aipysurus laevis).

 

 


After running out of air on the sea bottom O’Shea must spend 2 hours on oxygen to avoid the bends.

 


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