Pelamis platura (Pelagic sea snake or Yellow-bellied sea snake)

Swart-en-geel seeslang [Afrikaans]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Lepidosauromorpha > Lepidosauria > Squamata > Serpentes (snakes) > Family: Elapidae


Can be identified by the following, the top of its body is uniformly black and the bottom half is yellow or brown, a paddle like tail with yellow and black markings and lack of mobility on land. This snake has an average length of 60 cm but may reach 1meter.

Distribution and habitat

This snake species is the most widely distributed sea snake in the world, it is found throughout both the Indian and Pacific oceans. It spends all its life at sea and is only encountered on land when sick or injured.


This snake feeds on fish and eels.

Predators, parasites and disease



Viviparous (give birth to live young), normally giving birth to between 2 and 8 young, it is also the only sea snake that doesn't raise its young on land.



Medical importance

This sea snake has a potentially lethal neurotoxic venom for which no antivenom is available locally. The reason for this is that there is a very low possibility of being bitten because this snake is hardly ever encountered.   



  • Broadley, D.G. 1983. FitzSimons' Snakes of Southern Africa. Delta Books, Johannesburg.

  • Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishing, Cape Town.


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