sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Sail-World.com : Are Australia’s sea snakes in greater danger of extinction?
Are Australia’s sea snakes in greater danger of extinction?

'Coral Seasnake'   
The sea snakes of Australia could be in greater danger of extinction that previously thought, marine scientists say. New research on turtleheaded sea snakes that frequent coral reefs in Australia and nearby New Caledonia, has found they are strongly attached to their home reef and rarely venture even a few kilometres to neighbouring reefs.

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and The University of Sydney used genetic ‘fingerprinting’ to show that this behaviour has resulted in significant genetic differentiation in populations of the turtleheaded sea snake, Emydocephalus annulatus, living on adjacent reefs. These snakes occur in shallow-water coral reef habitats from the Philippines to the Great Barrier Reef and from New Caledonia to North Western Australia.

'The genetic divergence we found confirms that snakes rarely travel to other locations to mate, regardless of the distance, and means that if one population were to decline or disappear, it is unlikely to be ‘replenished’ by neighbouring snakes, because snakes rarely move between reefs,' says lead researcher Dr. Vimoksalehi Lukoschek from CoECRS and James Cook University.

'For eight years, sea snakes on two reefs that are adjacent to each other in New Caledonia have been captured, tagged with a microchip device and released,' says Prof. Rick Shine from the University of Sydney. 'In almost all instances, the snakes were repeatedly re-captured on the same reef during summers and winters.

'This finding matches with the genetic dataset, which showed that snakes on their home reefs were more closely related to each other genetically, than they were to snakes on the neighbouring reef. Similar genetic patterns have also been documented for other coral reef sea snake species.'

'The implications are that coral reef sea snakes are extremely vulnerable to disturbances in their local habitats, which could be caused by human activities or environmental changes,' says Dr. Lukoschek. 'This is of great concern, given that some Australian populations of turtleheaded and other reef-associated sea snakes have undergone massive declines or local extinctions in recent years, particularly at Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, and also on some reefs in the southern Great Barrier Reef.'

While the reasons for this behaviour of sea snakes are still unknown, physical barrier is not one of them, the researchers say.

'Although movement between reefs by sea snakes can be hindered by deep-water channels, our study sites were in close proximity and connected by shallow-water reef. These sea snakes can swim well and could easily have travelled to the neighbouring reef but they didn’t.'

'It is possible that they don’t move far because they forage exclusively on the eggs of reef fishes that are laid in nests on reefs, so they stick to reefs where they know the locations of those nests. Land snakes have been shown to have memory and the same may also be true for sea snakes. It is also possible that they like to stay close to their ‘relatives’.'

The findings raise doubts on the ability of Australia’s coral reef sea snake populations to recover from serious setbacks and highlight the need for greater awareness about the conservation status of these species.

'Perhaps because they are snakes, sea snakes have a very low profile on the conservation agenda. Some populations of coral reef sea snakes have declined sharply over the past ten years, but this has gone largely unnoticed and almost no effort has been made to find out why,' Dr. Lukoschek says. 'We need to pay more attention to these species, particularly because most of the coral reef species that have disappeared from Ashmore Reef are endemic to Australia.'

The study 'Sea snakes rarely venture far from home' by Vimoksalehi Lukoschek and Richard Shine has been published in the latest issue of Ecology and Evolution.

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies website


by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=97005

8:58 PM Fri 4 May 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







News - USA and the World























America's Cup Book Review: Winging It - Oracle Team USA's comeback *Feature by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz,




Rolex China Sea Race 2014 - nip and tuck for IRC honours by RHKYC and Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia, Hong Kong


























HUD Vision: An interview with Afterguard Marine’s Alex Moret *Feature by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor, Seattle














America's Cup: Expected de Ridder penalty should be reduced *Feature
World Youth Sailing Week – Second edition officially presented + Video
Rolex China Sea Race - Sailing classic returns
Les Voiles de St Barth – Fired up for battle
CNN Mainsail Down Under for the 75th JJ Giltinan Trophy - 18ft skiffs
Volvo Ocean Race: North Sails on outfitting the Volvo 65
Image gallery: James Cook High's Royal encounter on Steinlager 2 *Feature
Volvo Ocean Race - Maersk Line named shipping partner
Congressional Cup - Victory for Taylor Canfield and crew
SSV Oliver Hazard Perry joins America's Tall Ship fleet + Video
2014 Halifax – Saint-Pierre Ocean Race
Oyster Regatta Antigua - Glorious conditions prevail on final day
WWA Pro Card Qualifier - Pro Cards earned at Freedom Wake Park
Christmas Caribbean Rally - Top class sailors to compete
Earth Day boater tips
Anna Tunnicliffe - from CrossFit to Extreme 40's
Charleston Race Week - Photos by Chris Howell
Image Gallery: Stratis SL33 flies on the Waitemata
Audi Melges 20- Sperry Topsider Charleston Race Week - Light final day
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - PSP Logistics prepares for USA
ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères - Crème of the crop to compete   
Congressional Cup: Luna Rossa makes podium in first event   
Int 14 World Championships 2015 launch new event website   
International Optimist Regatta Clinic and Team Race - Register now!   
Congressional Cup: World top rankers finish that way in Long Beach   
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week Day 3 finale   
America's Cup: Gino Morrelli outlines the new AC62 design   
Doyle Sails New Zealand signs Andrew Brown as One Design Manager   
America's Cup: Dean Barker's Blog - A sail with the Duke and Duchess *Feature   
29er World Youth Sailing Week Easter regatta - Day 1 and 2 overall   
C Thomas Clagett Jr Memorial Clinic/Regatta - Entries start to roll in   
50th Congressional Cup: See the delayed coverage and media conferences   
Clipper Race 10 Day 27: Closing stages - Qingdao to San Francisco   
Canfield, Williams, Bruni, Swinton in Congressional Cup final four   
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week - Day 2   
Audi Melges 20 Charleston Race Week - Perfect conditions in Charleston   
Oyster Regatta Antigua - Full on ocean conditions for day 3   
PWA World Tour - A taste of things to come at La Torche + Video   
Women's International Match Racing Series kicks off in June   
Melges 32 Audi Tron Sailing Series - Action shots by Max Ranchi   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
X6XL NEW US