Here is a common question: “Do we have sea snakes in the Maldives?” And the answer must be yes as we have (rarely) a species of pelagic sea snake. But most commonly, people will encounter another wonderful animal looking like the banded sea snake, but actually being a Snake-Eel. It is not by coincidence that it looks like a snake, this is in fact a common strategy that animals use to avoid being bothered by predators. Looking like someone more dangerous and poisonous, makes anyone run away from their sight… But take a look at the picture above: do you see the gill opening by the 3rd black patch starting from the head? Well, snakes are reptiles (and have lungs) whereas snake eel are fish, with gills…
Now observe its beautiful pattern on the body and you will notice that it’s also lacking the typical snake-like scales.
Snake eels feed on crustaceans and small fish and they are seen swimming around in sandy lagoons as they don’t fear many predators. Their slender body allows them to sneak in small crevices and holes to get hold of the most hidden preys.
Next time that you snorkel around, look for a sneaky Snake-Eel… even sandy lagoons can be a wonderful place for rare encounters!
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