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No need for concern after Northland sighting of highly venomous snake, DOC expert says

There is no need for any concern after a sighting of a native yellow-bellied sea snake in Northland over the weekend, a Department of Conservation (DOC) expert has said.

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DOC’s Clinton Duffy says there is no need for concern after Northland resident Samantha Cooper discovered a live yellow-bellied sea snake on Tokerau Beach, in Doubtless Bay. Source: Breakfast

Technical adviser for marine species Clinton Duffy appeared on Breakfast after Northland resident Samantha Cooper discovered a live sea snake on Tokerau Beach, in Doubtless bay, over the weekend.

Duffy said it was incredibly rare for the snake, which is one of three species seen in New Zealand waters, to bite humans.

“There are at least two species of bandit sea snake we see as well,” he said.

“It would kill you [if it bit you]. They’re much more venomous than a cobra. [But] they have tiny rear-mounted fangs, [so] they have to get on and have a good chew before they can break skin."

The snakes are most commonly seen in the warm waters in Northland, Duffy said.

“It’s incredibly uncommon for someone to be bitten by a sea snake but if they do it’s incredibly serious.”

People should not touch the snake if they see them, but bites were so rare that it was not necessary for New Zealand to source anti-venom.

“Just leave them alone and let the local DOC officer know,” Duffy advised.

“It [is] incredibly rare [to see a bite]. No one has died from a sea snake bite in Australia, for example.”