How do fisheries affect sea snake assemblages?
Sea snakes are diverse, widespread throughout the tropics, (except the Atlantic) and unique reptiles adapted to the marine habitats.
There are around 70 species of sea snake are found today, with their ranges overlapping with areas of high fishing intensity. Globally, bycatch is one of the biggest threats to marine wildlife. Hundred thousand sea snakes are caught in nets every year in Australia’s northern prawn trawl fishery alone. India having a long coastline and diverse fishing communities, has very little known about sea snake bycatch in India.
Our goal with this project is tp:
- Characterize long – term trends in abundance, diversity, and mortality of sea snakes in bycatch.
- Engage with local stakeholders on the issues of bycatch and its mitigation
Our key findings so far….
Around 1200 observations of 6 species of sea snake have been made since 2015. Check out our poster to know about them (Marathi version available here)
Of the six species found two have been observed as dominant. The beaked sea snake has been the most abundant species in all years, followed by the short sea snake.
The rate of mortality varies by species, the short sea snake seems to be more susceptible to bycatch mortality and gear type.
Reproductive biology of the beaked sea snake
True sea snakes, unlike sea kraits, give birth to live young (ovoviviparous), as observed in the below video that was recorded during our work.
Engaging with local stakeholders and the public
Through informal interviews and meeting with local fishers and social workers, representatives in Malvan. We have produced outreach materials in the form of posters and a field guide to the sea snake of sea Sindhudurg. This has been written and been featured as articles in national and local print and online media (Hornbill, The Wire, Tarun Bharat).