A sick, venomous yellow-bellied sea snake spotted on California's Silver Strand State Beach has caused a stir in recent days.
Yellow-bellied sea snakes (Pelamis platurus) are not something one would expect to see as far north as waters off Southern California, experts say. It's the northernmost spotting of the species on the Pacific Coast of North America, a Los Angeles County Natural History Museum scientist told ABC News.
Indeed, the species is accustomed to warmer, tropical waters. But this year is an El Nino year, when Pacific Ocean waters heat up, which likely explains the northerly sighting of the sea snake.
The lifelong sea-dwellers do not venture on land, unless they're sick or hurt, and the snake died before wildlife officials were able to offer assistance.
Yellow-bellied snakes are highly venomous, but ABC News reports they are not usually a threat to humans unless someone attempts to handle them. And even then it's "incredibly rare" for a person to receive a fatal bite.
via ABC News, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office