First recorded sighting of rare sea snake on Ningaloo Reef, WA

By Liz Ginis 30 June 2022
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One of Australia’s rarest sea snakes has been filmed for the first time on Ningaloo Reef, WA. The footage is mesmerising.

Photographer and videographer Sara Barbieri captured this mesmerising footage of a Czeblukov’s sea snake (Hydrophis czeblukovi), a stunning animal with black hexagons running along its body.

“This is the first ever record currently known to science on Ningaloo Reef which is a sea snake biodiversity hotspot, with 15 species!” Sara says. “I found it at a snorkel site that we often go to. This snake was tiny, at just 90cm. It was swimming over sand, inside the lagoon of Ningaloo Reef, in just 3m of water.

“I loved observing its patterns and the way it effortlessly swam. It stopped a few times to check out some sargassum seaweed and a red bell jellyfish.

“This is one of the rarest sea snakes in Australia, known from just 15 records. It was discovered in Exmouth Gulf for the first time in 2018 when a deceased snake washed up in Wapet Creek. This new record shows for the first time that Czeblukov’s sea snakes use Ningaloo Reef.

“It also shows that they use shallow reef habitat, in addition to soft bottom habitats up to 103m depth. I reported this new record to sea snake researcher Blanche d’Anastasi from Australian Sea Snakes.

“It’s amazing to meet this rare and stunning sea snake, and to make an important contribution to science.”

You can report your sea snake sightings to the Australian Sea Snakes Group.

Related: The weird world of Australian sea snakes