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Up close with one of the world's most toxic snakes

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19 Oct, 2008

A beautiful day presented us with the opportunity to visit one of the southern-most islands in the Palau archipelago - Ngedbus, or 'Snake Island', which is home to highly toxic banded sea snakes.

These black and white sea snakes (Laticauda colubrine) commonly lie up on the high water mark in the debris to rest in between hunting.

We have visited this island previously and did not have much trouble in locating a few of these reptiles on either occasion. Today I noticed a large number of juvenile coconut crabs (Birgus latro), which at first appeared to be large hermit crabs.

At this juvenile stage of their lives they adopt a shell to protect their soft abdominal section but as they grow they can no longer find shells to accommodate their large size. These crabs will grow to about 1.5kg (3.3lb) in size. I have not located an adult but watch this site in the coming weeks for the story I hope to film.

Further along the beach we came across three banded sea snakes in close proximity. All three were relatively active, in contrast to our last visit to the island, when the snakes we came across were rather lethargic.

These snakes were relatively unperturbed by our presence, perhaps due to a lack of human contact. The locals do not visit the island because these creatures have made it their own, and rather leave them be.

Even though they are one of the most toxic snakes on the planet, using lethal cytotoxin to catch and paralyse their prey, they are also one of the most placid. The snakes never once appeared threatening or hostile.

Just when we were about to head back to the boat, another creature made an ungraceful landing in the tree above us.

A curious-looking fruit bat was climbing about a tree with bright orange flowers.

It mouthed these flowers, appearing to suck the nectar from each one, before clambering over to the next. For a creature apparently not designed to climb, it moved with relative agility. These animals are hunted and eaten in the islands and are therefore quite skittish and difficult to film, so this sighting was another bonus on another beautiful day here in Palau.

– by Grant Brokensha, Earth-Touch crew © Earth-Touch

More about this clip

Country: Micronesia
Habitat: Marine coastline
Location: Palau
Tags: Coconut crab, Crab, Fruit bat, Bat, Fruit, Snake, Island, Snake Island, Cytotoxin, Paralyse, Prey, Flower, Nectar, Grant Brokensha, Barry Skinstad, Banded sea snake, Reptiles, Vertebrates, Palau, Micronesia, Oceania, Marine coastline

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PureBrit

said on 19 Jan, 2009

Sorry if you do want to meet up mikes.herps@yahoo.co.uk Send email from site or i dont open ( I hate spam )

riaanp

said on 16 May, 2009

PureBrit. I couldn't help but notice that you hate spam yet you openly leave your email address. A tip: rather type your mail like this online: [mikes dot herps AT yahoo dot co dot uk]. That tends to fool quite a fair few bots. :)

PureBrit

said on 17 May, 2009

Thanks for the tip mate but not much gets through my filters only websites i trust/like.

PureBrit

said on 19 Jan, 2009

VERY NICE VEDIO 5* Do you live in thailand if so im moving out there march 17th 2009 maybe you would like to meet up..

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