Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 11, pp 2369–2373

Sea snakes anticipate tropical cyclone

Original Paper

Abstract

Here, we report anticipatory behaviors of sea snakes and provide the first evidence for a sensory mechanism by which they survive a catastrophic cyclone. Sea kraits (Laticauda spp.) are normally abundant in littoral habitats at Lanyu (Orchid Island), Taiwan but disappeared coincident with falling barometric pressure prior to typhoon Morakot, which impacted the island severely during 7–9 August 2009. The abundance of sea kraits that are visible within the littoral zone correlates with barometric pressure, but not with precipitation or wind speed, which drives the surf. We found very little evidence of direct mortality caused by the storm, and the visible abundance of sea kraits following the storm returned to pre-storm levels. Data suggest that survival of sea kraits depends on the sensory perception of low pressures preceding a tropical cyclone, followed by behaviors which avoid the lethal storm energies potentially affecting this coastal population. Sea kraits likely find refuge in cavernous spaces beneath volcanic rocks of the seacoast.

References

  1. Alcala AC (2004) Marine reserves as tool for fishery management and biodiversity conservation: natural experiments in the central Philippines, 1974–2000. Silliman University-Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management, Dumaguete CityGoogle Scholar
  2. Aronson RB (1993) Hurricane effects on backreef echinoderms of the Caribbean. Coral Reefs 12:138–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clarke RD (1996) Population shifts in two competing fish species on a degrading coral reef. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 137:51–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dodd CK, Byles R (2003) Post-nesting movements and behavior of Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) departing from east-central Florida nesting beaches. Chelonian Conserv Biol 4:530–536Google Scholar
  5. Grant RA, Halliday T (2010) Predicting the unpredictable: evidence of pre-seismic anticipatory behaviour in the common toad. J Zool 1–9Google Scholar
  6. Heatwole H (1999) Sea snakes. Krieger, MalabarGoogle Scholar
  7. Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA, Hueter RE (2003) Running before the storm: blacktip sharks respond to falling barometric pressure associated with Tropical Storm Gabrielle. J Fish Biol 63:1357–1363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hubbard DK, Parsons KM, Bythell JC, Walker ND (1991) The effects of Hurricane Hugo on the reefs and associated environments of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands—a preliminary assessment. J Coast Res 8:33–48Google Scholar
  9. Ineich I, Bonnet X, Brischoux F, Kulbicki M, Séret B, Shine R (2007) Anguilliform fishes and sea–kraits: neglected predators in coral–reef ecosystems. Mar Biol 151:793–802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kaufman L (1983) Effects of Hurricane Allen on reef fish assemblages near Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Coral Reefs 2:43–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lillywhite HB, Babonis LS, Sheehy CM III, Tu MC (2008) Sea snakes (Laticauda spp.) require fresh drinking water: implications for the distribution and persistence of populations. Physiol Biochem Zool 81:785–796CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Lugo AE, Rogers CS, Nixon SW (2000) Hurricanes, coral reefs and rainforests: resistance, ruin and recovery in the Caribbean. Ambio 29:106–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McLeod E, Salm R, Green A, Almany J (2009) Designing marine protected area networks to address the impacts of climate change. Front Ecol Environ 7:362–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mignucci-Giannoni AA, Toyos-González GM, Pérez-Padilla J, Rodríguez-López MA, Overing J (1999) Mass stranding of pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) in the British Virgin Islands. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 79:383–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Povel D, Kooij JVD (1997) Scale sensillae of the file snake (Serpentes: Acrochordidae) and some other aquatic and burrowing snakes. Neth J Zool 47:443–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Watterson JC, Patterson WF III, Shipp RL, Cowan JH Jr (1998) Movement of red snapper, Lutianus campechanus, in the North Central Gulf of Mexico: Potential effects of hurricanes. Gulf Mexico Sci 16:92–104Google Scholar
  17. Westhoff G, Fry BG, Bleckmann H (2005) Sea snakes (Lapemis curtus) are sensitive to low-amplitude water motions. Zoology 108:195–200CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Woodley JD, Chornesky EA, Clifford PA, Jackson JBC, Kaufman LS, Knowlton N, Lang JC, Pearson MP, Porter JW, Rooney MC, Rylaarsdam KW, Tunnifliffe VJ, Wahle CM, Wulff JL, Curtis ASG, Dallmeyer MD, Jupp BJ, Koehl MAR, Neigel J, Sides EM (1981) Hurricane Allen’s impact on Jamaican coral reefs. Science 214:749–755CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life ScienceNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations