A rare poisonous yellow-bellied snake has washed up on the shores of Southern California for the second time this year, at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Orange County.
The Surfrider Foundation announced the finding Saturday after releasing a video (above) of their Dec. 12 beach cleanup during which volunteers found the snake. The snake was already dead when it was discovered.
This is the third time in California's history the snake has been found. It’s also been seen twice on the coast of Baja. All five times, the snake has washed ashore during El Nino seasons.
Yellow-bellied sea snakes are usually found in more tropical climates, but biologists believe the warmer water temperatures caused by El Nino are drawing the snakes farther north.
According to the assistant curator of herpetology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Greg Pauly, it’s rare for someone to die from a bite from this particular snake, because its mouth is so small that it usually preys on smaller fish.
Pauly told the Los Angeles Times in October that the snakes are likely following food sources in warmer water.
The snake can swim backward and forward and can stay underwater for up to three hours.
If you find one of these snakes on the beach, do not touch it or interact with it — but do take photos and contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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