Deadly Yellow-Bellied Sea Snakes Are Coming Ashore in California

Some think a major El Nino is to blame.

In nature, yellow and black combined are often warning signs that say “do not touch, whatever you do.” This is particularly true with the yellow-bellied sea snake—something Californians are re-learning, since the dangerous reptile has recently begun coming ashore.

KTLA reported Friday that one yellow-bellied sea snake “was recently spotted at  Silver Strand Beach near Oxnard,” and noted another incident in which the man who found the snake called wildlife officials but it had died by the time they arrived.

“Yellow-bellied sea snakes are extremely venomous,” emphasized the KTLA post about the sightings, “and members of the public are advised not to touch them.”

Heal the Bay, a nonprofit environmental group, said in a blog post that El Nino, a phenomenon in which unusually warm Pacific waters disrupt weather patterns worldwide, and climate change in general may be to blame for the sea snakes coming ashore:

This sea snake is a harbinger of El Niño–it typically lives in warm tropical waters. The last time the yellow-bellied snake was spotted in California was in the early 1980’s during an El Niño. Scientists are calling for the public’s help to confirm occurrences of these sea snakes in California and your sighting could be published in scientific journals.

Whatever the cause for these yellow-bellied cousins to the deadly cobra showing up these days, it may be a good idea to stick with Southern California’s famed pools for all your swimming needs, for now. 

Photos by Aloaiza/Wikimedia


Deputy Digital Editor,