Sea snake homing instinct could nix translocation


These findings suggest that the populations on the two islands are separate, a conclusion that is supported by the finding that adult male sea kraits have different average growth rates and body sizes on the two islands (they grow faster and are larger on Toberua).

This work shows that it may take a long time for yellow-lipped sea kraits to recover from local extinctions. "Our data suggest that translocations may be ineffective because the snakes are likely to return to their original homes," say Shetty and Shine. Another implication of the snake's site fidelity is that populations are extremely vulnerable to local threats such as developing islands into resorts, introducing mongooses, and degrading the coral reefs where the snakes forage.

Shetty and Shine note that the flip side is sea kraits could be harvested if managed properly. "Simply stated, populations on certain islands can be left undisturbed while those on other islands can be harvested. That way, we can be certain we are not wiping out the entire species, and at the same time we are not depriving people of their livelihood," says Shetty.


Contact: Sohan Shetty
Society for Conservation Biology

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