A deep-diving sea snake
Surface-dwelling serpent found in the vasty depths.
This photograph is unlikely to win any awards for composition, but it is fascinating nonetheless.
The image shows a sea snake caught on screen by a remote-controlled underwater camera called Ichthys, operated by gas and fuel exploration company INPEX Australia.
The snake was going about its business 245 metres below the surface, in a deep sea “twilight zone”. The sighting smashed the previous record for the deepest sea snake spotting – a comparatively puny 133 metres.
The sighting was made in the Browse Basin, off the coast of Australia’s Kimberley region. The footage was handed over to researchers at the University of Adelaide.
“We have known for a long time that sea snakes can cope with diving sickness known as 'the bends' using gas exchange through their skin,” says researcher Jenna Crowe-Riddell. “But I never suspected that this ability allows sea snakes to dive to deep-sea habitats.”
The finding is detailed in the journal Austral Ecology.