Olive sea snake, Aipysurus laevis, swimming in a coral reef

Aipysurus laevis is a venomous sea snake found off the coast of Australia and other Indo-Pacific areas © Tchami, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Chasing sea snakes in Australia

Museum researcher Dr Bruno Simões tells us how he pursued sea snakes, from the mangroves to the open ocean of western Australia, in his efforts to understand how snakes see and how their vision evolved.

As a vision biologist, I’m interested in how animal vision has evolved and how it functions. The dramatic impact living in an aquatic environment can have on visual systems led me to become particularly interested in sea snakes.

Sea snakes are part of the family Elapidae, along with kraits, mambas, cobras and taipans. The family consists of more than 360 species, including some extremely venomous species that live in aquatic and terrestrial (land-based) habitats in Australasia, among other places.  

In 2014 I travelled to Australia to observe sea snakes in their natural environment and to collect DNA samples that would allow me to analyse their visual systems.

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