Apparently male sea snakes are pursuing divers as potential mates during the mating season.
This was confirmed by a study and research that was based on over 158 interactions with olive sea snakes in the Great Barrier Reef. As it goes, sexually frustrated male sea snakes pursued divers with behaviors that are used during courtship.
It was revealed that this behavior typically occurs during the mating season. Furthermore, it usually happens when a male sea snake is somehow separated from a female sea snake during their courting routines.
This behavior is being attributed to a combination of being highly aroused and the lack of good underwater vision.
Although these sea snakes are very venomous they are not seen as a threat to a diver’s safety. They are much more of a threat to fishermen that can mistakenly haul them in with their catch.
Watch the video below for a glimpse at the olive sea snake mating dance.
During 74 out of 158 encounters, Lynch was approached by a sea snake, and a majority of these overlapped with their mating season, between May and August. Males were also significantly more likely than females to approach, and display some mating behaviors toward, the diver, especially during the mating season.
Lynch also described behaviors known to occur during the mating season, such as males coiling their bodies around his fins.
“Males coil around females during courtship, probably to hang on effectively while they get into position to mate,” Shine said.
The males also tended to flick out their tongues at Lynch. However, the most striking behavior occurred in 13 incidents, when the males rapidly chased Lynch underwater when he swam away.
“Females don’t do any chasing; they do the fleeing [during mating],” Lynch said. “So swimming away from a male snake is mimicking courtship behavior,” which encourages the male to follow.
The researchers suspect that the snakes that chased Lynch were probably in the midst of a failed mating attempt.
“It’s clear that most approaches to divers were by males who had lost contact with the females they were pursuing,” Shine said. “They frantically search for a female if they lose touch with her.”
I guess you can say that sea snakes are beautiful animals than don’t see us as threats. However, my fear is that without this knowledge, a diver could potentially put themselves in harm’s way if they encounter a sea snake under these circumstances.
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