Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

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The majority of sea snakes live in the warm seas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  Most of the species are found in the Coral Triangle region of Southeast Asia, with Australia a close second. Built for marine life, sea snakes have rounded bodies and flat tails.  Furthermore as they swim, small flaps cover their noses to keep the sea water out.

 The families of sea snakes differ in their need for land and fresh water.  The Hydrophiinae like the yellow-bellied sea snake spend their entire lives at sea.  They have glands under their tongues to discharge salt.  Also, the powerful lung of these snakes allows them to dive deeply, and stay underwater for a long time.  Great numbers of these sea snakes can be found floating out in the open ocean in a giant raft (“slick”).

Meanwhile, the Laticaudinae such as sea kraits lay their eggs in tidal caves near the shore.  Also, they prefer basking on rocks and drinking fresh water.  Living in the shallow waters of coral reefs, sea kraits have fringes on their flat tails to attract fish.  In addition, they have scales on their bodies for crawling on land.

 The file snakes (Acrochordids) live in estuaries and fresh water. These snakes are not venomous. Mangrove snakes (Homalopsids) live entirely in mangroves. The salt marsh snakes (Natricids) are not true sea snakes but appear to be evolving into a marine species. (They are found in the sub-tropics of North America.)

 What sea snakes are notorious for is their venom.  Hunting in the crevices of coral reefs, sea kraits strike at a tasty eel.  The snake’s venom kills instantly, thus preventing the victim from escaping.  However, the venom of sea snakes is so lethal that one drop can kill up to ten people.  For that reason, Scuba divers are usually cautious around these snakes.  Meanwhile, local coastal people are wary of stepping on sea kraits resting in the shallows.

 Understanding death is what sea snakes teach.  Curious or shy or aggressive, these snakes are deliverers of death.  (Death from them is sudden and quick.)  Sea snakes guide us to respect, acknowledge, and accept death.  Through sea snakes, we begin to know death.  We may feel terror, awe, or respect, but we do not turn away.  Using caution, we do not tempt fate but remain prudent.  Sea snakes help us with acknowledging death.

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Virginia Carper, a Roman Polytheist, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family. She navigates life with a traumatic brain injury which gives her a different view on life. An avid naturalist since childhood, she has a blog called “Nature’s Observations.” Having experienced the animals directly, she teaches on-line classes about the spiritual and natural aspect of animals. She has published articles on her brain injury, Roman polytheism, and working with extinct animals. In addition her writings on animals (including dragons and other mythic creatures) can be purchased her book site, Animal Teachers.  


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