Olive sea snakes are among the largest marine snake species and sometimes make contact with divers. Numerous scuba divers in places like Australia’s imperiled Great Barrier Reef have reported what they interpreted as unprovoked attacks from venomous sea snakes, especially the olive sea snake which can reach lengths of around six feet. Divers say the snakes, which breathe air but spend their entire lives in the ocean, sometimes come hurtling out of the blue swimming in rapid zig-zags straight at the person. These encounters almost never result in recreational divers getting bitten, but the apparent aggression from animals packing deadly neurotoxic venom is enough to alarm most who experience it firsthand. Now, new research reveals that these charging sea serpents likely harbor no malice toward the humans visiting their home. Instead, the paper, published today in the journal Scientific Reports , suggests these underwater dust ups are actually cases of mistaken identity, with the understandably shaken divers having been caught in the crossfire of the sea snake’s urgent quest to find love during the winter mating season. “Wild animals don’t attack people without good reason,” says Rick Shine, evolutionary biologist at Macquarie University in Australia and the study’s senior […]

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