Being air-breathers, marine reptiles must come to the surface to breathe. One species of sea snake occurs in our local waters and turtles are occasionally washed down the coast from their usual tropical habitat.
Caretta caretta (Chordata: Vertebrata)
This young turtle may reach a length of 1.5 m as an adult. Loggerheads have no distinct beak and many adults have a large head (hence the name). They catch fish in deeper waters. They breed on the northern coasts of Australia but individuals often stray south, probably assisted by the Leeuwin Current. They lay dozens of eggs and the hatchling has a shell-length of only 3 to 5 cm.
Yellow-bellied sea snake
Pelamis platurus (Chordata: Vertebrata)
This is the only truly sea-going sea snake. It is found in waters along all coasts of Australia except the south and occasionally one is found stranded at Cottesloe. It is highly venomous and even a beached one should not be handled. It swims with its paddle-like tail and eats small fish and eels. The young are born alive – not in eggs.
PO Box 32
Cottesloe WA 6911
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