Although the yellow-bellied sea snake is “probably the most widely distributed snake in the world,” finds LA Observed, it hasn’t been spotted in California since the early 1980s—during an El Niño. HtB calls the creature “a harbinger of El Niño” because “it typically lives in warm tropical waters.” (Warm water is associated with El Niños.) Descended from Asian cobras and something called the Australian tiger snake, the yellow-bellied sea snake has some of the most poisonous venom in the world and definitely should not be touched.
That said, here is a video of the snake that showed up on Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard, filmed by a guy doing exactly what you are not supposed to do to this snake when you find it:
Scientists are hoping that getting the word out about these dangerous snakes can help pinpoint where they appear; they’re asking that SoCal residents who see these slithery things take photos (from a safe distance), try to get the exact location, and submit the sighting to tracking websites like iNaturalist and Herp Mapper.
· Venomous sea snakes arrive with El Niño [LAO]
· Climate Change and El Niño: A Double Whammy [HtB]
· Mapping How an El Niño Winter Could Create Massive Flooding in Pasadena [Curbed LA]