Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sea Snake Homing Instinct Could Nix Translocation

Date:
September 25, 2002
Source:
Society For Conservation Biology
Summary:
Philippine researchers want to restore a sea snake that has been wiped out on Gato Island by translocating the species from other islands. But new research suggests that this may not work because these snakes have such a strong drive to return to their own islands.

Philippine researchers want to restore a sea snake that has been wiped out on Gato Island by translocating the species from other islands. But new research suggests that this may not work because these snakes have such a strong drive to return to their own islands.

"The fidelity of snakes to their home island was absolute," say Sohan Shetty, then at the University of Sydney, Australia, and now at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Richard Shine of the University of Sydney, Australia, in the October issue of Conservation Biology.

Widely distributed in the Pacific Ocean, the snakes (yellow-lipped sea kraits) forage for moray and conger eels in the ocean, and typically return to land to digest their prey, mate, lay eggs. The up to 5-foot long snakes are prized for their meat and skins, which are used to make high-quality leather goods, and are easy to catch in huge numbers because they are concentrated on small islands and, although venomous, are so docile that they rarely bite or even try to escape.

Overexploitation has caused local extinctions of yellow-lipped sea kraits in the Philippines and Japan. While translocation has been proposed to restore these populations, no one knew if the relocated snakes would stay put.

To help assess the likelihood that translocation would restore these sea krait populations effectively, Shetty and Shine studied the snake's homing behavior on two small Fijan islands. The islands are about 2 miles apart and one (Mabualau) is uninhabited by people while the other (Toberua) has a resort.

Shetty and Shine caught 328 yellow-lipped sea kraits by hand on Toberua, marked them by clipping their scales and then released them on Mabualau. When the researchers recaptured the translocated snakes, they found that all of them had returned "home" within about a month. The researchers also caught, marked and released 674 snakes on Mabualau, and found that none of them were recaptured on Toberua.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society For Conservation Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society For Conservation Biology. "Sea Snake Homing Instinct Could Nix Translocation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 September 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020925063603.htm>.
Society For Conservation Biology. (2002, September 25). Sea Snake Homing Instinct Could Nix Translocation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020925063603.htm
Society For Conservation Biology. "Sea Snake Homing Instinct Could Nix Translocation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020925063603.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins