Cleaning up at Bolsa Chica State Beach near Los Angeles volunteers for the Surfrider Foundation came across a beautiful yellow-bellied sea snake. The poisonous yellow-bellied sea snake is a pelagic creature, meaning it lives far from any shore. So what was it doing there? It was dead, washed up by the waves. The discovery follows another beached yellow-bellied sea snake that washed up in Ventura in October — that snake was alive but not for long. The snakes were about two-feet long. Before these two the last time a yellow-bellied sea snake washed up on a California beach was in 1972.
The Australian Museum describes the beautifully colored species as “unlikely to be confused with any other” because of its unique appearance, explaining that the yellow-bellied sea snakes are “widespread in the tropical parts of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.” They’re far more likely to end up on the beach in New South Wales than LA. And if they’re not already dead, their health is usually severely compromised if they’ve reached shore. Yellow-bellied sea snakes have short fangs but potent poison, which could lead to paralysis and death in humans.