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Sea Snakes Might Be Mistaking Divers To Be Potential Sexual Partners: Study

By: Buzz Staff

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Last Updated: August 21, 2021, 11:57 IST

The attacks by sea snakes could be misdirected courtship behaviour.

The attacks by sea snakes could be misdirected courtship behaviour.

The research paper published in the journal Scientific Reports was based on an analysis of data collected by biologist Tim Lynch.

The case of mistaken identity seems to be the reason behind the rise in attacks on divers by sea snakes. Many divers have faced unprovoked attacks by sea water snakes but if the finding of a recent report by experts at Australia’s Macquarie University is to be believed, then these attacks could be misdirected courtship behaviour by the serpents. The snakes are possibly looking for sexual partners especially during the mating season, reported Daily Mail.

While sea snakes are considered more venomous than their terrestrial counterparts, bites injecting toxins into humans are considered to be rare. The research paper published in the journal Scientific Reports was based on an analysis of data collected by biologist Tim Lynch who presently works at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia. Dr Lynch collected this data when he was a diver at Great Barrier Reef in 1994-95.

The researchers noted that out of the total 158 encounters of Dr Lynch with the olive sea snake, Aipysurus laevis, the serpent approached him 47 per cent of the time.

These approaches where the creature would flicker its tongue at Dr Lynch rose during the mating season that runs from May to August. These types of encounters were common in the case of male serpents.

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When the male serpent charged Dr Lynch, it was always in the wake of them unsuccessfully chasing a female counterpart or having a confrontation with a rival male. Meanwhile, in the case of the female serpents, the chase would be a result of them following a pursuit by a male counterpart or thinking that the diver represents a potential hiding place from unwanted suitors.

On at least three occasions, the serpents approaching Dr Lynch coiled around his fins - an act which is common during their courtship rituals. This research on Dr Lynch’s data was based on a previous research that suggested that sea snakes struggle to distinguish different shapes underwater.

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first published:August 21, 2021, 11:57 IST
last updated:August 21, 2021, 11:57 IST