• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Note on Emerging Science: Deep-Sea Serpents

Air Date: Week of

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

Scientists have observed two sea snakes swimming at depths of 785 and 810 feet below the surface. (Photo: Daniel Kwok, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Sea snakes have been spotted diving 800 feet deep - almost twice the depth of the previous seen dives. Living on Earth's Don Lyman shares more on these record-setting sea serpents.

Transcript

CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood.

Just ahead, a look back at 2019 and ahead at this year with Peter Dykstra but first this note on emerging science from Don Lyman.

[SCIENCE NOTE THEME]

LYMAN: Sea snakes are primarily known to frequent relatively shallow tropical waters, like coral reefs, in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. But new data suggest they can actually dive much deeper than previously thought. A film crew in Australia recorded footage of two sea snakes diving roughly 800 feet deep, smashing the previous known record of just 436 feet. Researchers were surprised to find the salt water serpents so deep. They were thought to swim most often depths of about 160 and 300 feet. Both snakes appeared to be the same species, it looked like they were hunting for food, poking their heads into burrows in the sand. But researchers aren’t sure what kind of fish the snakes were looking for, or how the snakes might locate their prey in the dim light of the mesopelagic or “twilight zone”, as these depths are called.


Before, the deepest that scientists had seen a sea snake dive was 435 feet. (Photo: Alex Halavais, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Researchers have known for some time that sea snakes can cope with diving sickness known as the bends, which is caused by gas bubbles forming in the blood, by using gas exchanges in their skin. But they never suspected that that ability would allow sea snakes to dive so deep. Scientists say these record setting dives raise new questions about the biology and behavior of sea snakes. That’s this week’s note on emerging science. I’m Don Lyman.

 

Links

United Press International | “Sea Snake Spotted Making Record Dive”

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth