Buenos Días El Niño – Yellow Bellied Sea Snakes off Southern California – and Live on the Beach at Oxnard

by Chris Dixon


A yellow bellied sea snake found and photographed by Robert Forbes on the beach at Oxnard. Photo: Robert Forbes.

In California, the 2015-16 El Niño continues its strange and ominous march towards the record books. Today there was not only massive, wild flooding up in Tehachapi, but my buddy Brandon Cruz, better known to many in the surf world as Bonzer5Fin and to the larger world as Eddie from famed late 60’s CBS sitcom The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, helped confirm rumors floating around Southern California. Yeah, that’s a picture of a yellow bellied sea snake, known in Latin as Pelamis platura. On the beach. In Oxnard. Yeah, it’s alive.

The photo and video were taken by Brandon’s friend Robert Forbes – who is about to become very popular with L.A. news media. The snake was gathered up and taken to an expert at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.


Yellow bellied sea snakes are pelagic creatures that roam the tropical open oceans nearly everywhere but the Atlantic – but given the spread of invasives around the globe, even that’s probably only a matter of time. They’re native to American Samoa, Australia, Thailand, Tonga, Hawaii, Baja and the United Arab Emirates and are among the most widely distributed herps in the world. It’s just not common to see them on the California coastline. In fact, according to the website California Herps, they have been seen during El Niño years in Orange and LA Counties. But Oxnard is in Ventura county – and usually the water is colder up there. But this year, not so much.

These snakes are, unfortunately very, very poisonous. But fortunately for humans, they’re not aggressive, have very small mouths and they are quite sluggish on land – as you can see from the below video. If you see one, there’s no need to panic, but you might want to scoop up your kid, leave it the heck alone and contact Heal the Bay or the California Department of Fish and Game.

Here is some video, they are dangerous and venomous, don't get close to them. Rescued this sea snake today on the beach here at Silverstrand in Oxnard. Prior to this there was only a report of them being seen as far north as Orange County. El Niño has definitely brought a lot of strange and unusual aquatic fish and animals up. Caution these snakes are venomous and should be avoided and not handled. And yes it is alive.

Posted by Robert Forbes on Friday, October 16, 2015

“There were at least three more in the water,” said Brandon. “Also, a boogie boarder reported a 16-foot Tiger Shark sighting and Hammerheads are out at Anacapa. It’s crazy.”

I’ll say. Watch your step. –CD

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