A recent study indicates that sexually unsatisfied sea snakes mistake scuba divers for partners.
When a diver came into touch with male sea snakes, he noted some unusual behavior.
They’d wrap themselves around his fins, lick the water surrounding him, and even pursue him down.
It was mating season, and the male reptiles believed he was a possible partner, he now knows.
Researchers examined 158 encounters with olive sea snakes in the Great Barrier Reef and discovered they were more prevalent during mating season, according to a recent study published in LiveScience.
The “sexually frustrated snakes” exhibited behaviors similar to those seen during sea serpent courting.
According to Rick Shine, an evolutionary scientist and reptile expert at Macquarie University in Australia, “When seeking for ‘girlfriends,’ males are highly excited and active.
“However, because male snakes and scuba divers can’t tell the difference, it may lead to some amusing situations.”
Olive sea snakes are poisonous and may kill humans, yet experts do not feel that swimming with them during their mating season puts anyone at risk.
While studying at James Cook University in Australia in the mid-1990s, Tim Lynch, a senior research scientist at CSIRO, Australia’s national science organization, gathered the data.
He kept track of snake sightings in the Keppel Islands and discovered a relationship between their strange behavior and mating.
Lynch told LiveScience, “It was fascinating; they are the most elegant of animals and have no evolutionary link with humans.” “They aren’t attempting to harm you; they are simply interested.”
Researchers believe the findings are still applicable today, despite the fact that the data was obtained more than 25 years ago.
“I believe the data is still valid since the snakes’ and, most likely, people’s behaviour haven’t altered,” Lynch said.
Tim Lynch discovered that 74 out of 158 interactions were approached by a sea snake and that they coincided with their mating season, which runs from May to August.
During mating season, males were also more likely to approach and show mating behavior towards a diver.
“During courting, males coil around females, possibly to hold on until they get into position to mate,” Shine explained.
The males also tended to flick out their tongues at Lynch. In 13 cases, however, the males chased Lynch underwater when he swam away, which was the most remarkable action.
Lynch explained, “Females don’t conduct any pursuing; they do the fleeing [during mating].” “Swimming away from a male snake imitates courting behavior,” says the author, encouraging the male to follow.
The snakes that chased Lynch were most likely engaged in a failed mating attempt, according to the researchers.
“The majority of approaches to divers were clearly made by males who had lost contact with the girls they were chasing,” Shine said. “If they lose contact with a girl, they hunt desperately for her.”
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