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Of the more than 12,000 species and subspecies of extant reptiles, about 100 have re-entered the ocean. Among them are seven species of sea turtles and about 80 species and subspecies of sea snakes, as well as a few other species that are occasionally or regularly found in brackish waters, including various other snakes, the saltwater crocodile, and the marine iguana of the Galapagos Islands. The largest group of marine reptiles, the sea snakes, occur in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans from the east coast of Africa to the Gulf of Panama. They inhabit shallow waters along coasts, around islands and coral reefs, river mouths and travel into rivers more than 150 km away from the open ocean. A single species has been found more than 1000 km up rivers. Some have also been found in lakes. The taxonomic status of the sea snakes is still under review and no general agreement exists at the moment. The effects of the exploitation on sea snakes have been investigated in the Philippines and Australia but are almost unknown from other areas. Investigations indicate that some populations are already extinct and others are in danger of extinction in various parts of Asia. All sea turtles are endangered except one. The marine iguana of the Galapagos Islands remains vulnerable due to its limited range. Brackish water snakes are closely associated with mangrove forests and as such are subject to deforestation and coastal development schemes that result in habitat loss. In addition, some are collected for their skins. While none of the coastal species are considered in danger of extinction at the present time, many are data deficient.
Copyright: © 2011 Rasmussen et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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VCU Study of Biological Complexity Publications