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Hydrophis belcheri (GRAY, 1849)

IUCN Red List - Hydrophis belcheri - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Faint-banded Seasnake 
SynonymAturia belcheri GRAY 1849: 46
Hydrophis pachycercus FISCHER 1856
Hydrophis belcheri — GÜNTHER 1864
Distira belcheri — BOULENGER 1896
Hydrophis (Aturia) belcheri — MCDOWELL 1972: 229
Hydrophis belcheri — COGGER 1983: 249
Aturia belcheri — WELCH 1994: 25
Hydrophis belcheri — MURPHY, COX & VORIS 1999
Hydrophis belcheri — COGGER 2000: 714
Chitulia belcheri — KHARIN 2005
Hydrophis belcheri — NGUYEN et al. 2009
Hydrophis belcheri — RASMUSSEN et al. 2011
Chitulia belcheri — KHARIN & DOTSENKO 2012
Hydrophis belcheri — SANDERS et al. 2012
Chitulia (Chitulia) belcheri — KHARIN 2012
Chitulia belcheri — WALLACH et al. 2014: 165
Hydrophis belcheri — COGGER 2014: 956 
DistributionIndian Ocean (Philippines: Visayan area, Panay; New Guinea), Gulf of Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and New Guinea, Australia

Type locality: New Guinea (in error, fide DAVID & INEICH 1999)  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.1.97.
Neotype: ZMUC (pachycercos) 
DiagnosisDESCRIPTION. Head moderate, body elongate, compressed posteriorly, two to four times the diameter of the neck; 7–8 [rarely 6 or 9] maxillary teeth behind venom fangs; normally one supralabial (4th, but occasionally two, 3rd and 4th or 4th and 5th) borders eye; one anterior temporal, occasionally divided by a horizontal groove; 24–27 scales around neck, 32–37 around midbody; ventrals 278–313; body color yellow or grayish above, yellow-whitish below, 52–70 dark bands, head black in young, lighter in adults, with yellowish or olive markings. (After Rasmussen et al. 2011:5, Leviton et al. 2014: 503).

Diagnostic characters: Normally only one supralabial (the fourth) bordering the eye, but rarely two (third and fourth or fourth and fifth). Scale rows around neck 24–2; scale rows around body 32–3; ventrals 28–313. Maxillary teeth behind fangs –8, rarely 6 or 9. Colouration: Body yellow or greyish above, yellow-whitish below, with 52–0 dark or black bands. Head dark with flecks of olive or yellowish markings on prefrontal and around eye. 

Synonymy partly after COGGER 1983. Hydrophis pachycercos FISCHER 1855 has been removed from the synonymy of H. belcheri by RASMUSSEN et al. (200).

Distribution: not on the Solomon Islands (Bougainville Island) by McCoy 2015 although the species was listed by SMITH 193 for the Solomons. Specimens that were earlier on referred to as C. belcheri from the Philippines (AMNH 3091, BMNH 1926.5.28.11) appear to belong to the species Leioselasma melanocephala (Gray, 1849), which is widely distributed along the coasts of southern Japan, China, and Taiwan and in the Gulf of Tonkin [KHARIN 2005].

The name Aturia is preoccupied and thus all species of Aturia have been referred to Chitulia (WILLIAMS & WALLACH 1989).

Habitat: marine. 
EtymologyNamed after the collector of the holotype, H. Belcher. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 1975. The sea snakes of Australia and New Guinea. pp. 59-139 in Dunson, W. (ed. ) The Biology of Sea Snakes. Baltimore: University Park Press
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • David,P. & Ineich,I. 1999. Les serpents venimeux du monde: systématique et répartition. Dumerilia 3: 3-499
  • Dunson, William A.;Minton, Sherman A. 1978. Diversity, distribution, and Ecology of Philippine Marine Snakes (Reptilia, Serpentes). Journal of Herpetology 12 (3): 281-286 - get paper here
  • Ferner, John W., Rafe M. Brown, Rogelio V. Sison and Robert S. Kennedy 2000. The amphibians and reptiles of Panay Island, Philippines. Asiatic Herpetological Research 9: 1-37 - get paper here
  • Fischer, J. G. 1855. Die Familie der Seeschlangen systematisch beschrieben von J.G. Fischer Dr., ordentl. Lehrer der Realschule des Johanneums. In: Zu der öffentlichen Prüfung, welche mit den Zöglingen der Realschule Dienstag und Mittwoch , den 25. und 26. September 1855 Hamburg Johann August Meissner, 68 pp.
  • Fischer, J.G. 1856. Die Familie der Seeschlangen. Abhandl. Nat. Ver. Hamburg 3: 1-78 - get paper here
  • Gray, J. E. 1849. Catalogue of the specimens of snakes in the collection of the British Museum. Edward Newman, London, i-xv; 1-125. - get paper here
  • Hallermann, J. 2007. Zur Geschichte der herpetologischen Sammlung des Zoologischen Museums Hamburgs, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung von Dr. Johann Gustav Fischer (1819 - 1889). Sekretär 7 (1): 20-32 - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1859. Plan d'une iconographie descriptive des ophidiens et description sommaire de nouvelles espèces de serpents. Rev. Mag. Zool., Paris (2) (11-12): 122-130 - get paper here
  • Kharin, V.E. 2005. Distribution of a Little-Known Sea Snake Chitulia belcheri (Gray, 1849) and New Records of Rare Species of the Genus Leioselasma Lacepede, 1804 (Serpentes: Hydrophiidae). Russian Journal of Marine Biology 31 (3): 159-163 - get paper here
  • Kharin, V.E. 2012. Sea Snakes of the Genus Chitulia Gray, 1849 (Serpentes: Hydrophiidae). The Taxonomic Status of Intrageneric Complexes. Russian Journal of Marine Biolog 38 (6): 456-458 - get paper here
  • Kharin, V.E. & Dotsenko I.B. 2012. The First Record of the Sea Snake Chitulia inornata Gray, 1849 from the Arabian Sea with Notes on the Composition of the Genus Chitulia Gray, 1849 (Serpentes: Hydrophiidae). [in Russian and English]. Russian Journal of Marine Biology 38 (1): 35–42 - get paper here
  • Kharin, Vladimir E. and Vladimir P. Czeblukov 2007. On First Reliable Record of the Sea Snake Chitulia belcheri (Gray, 1849) from Australian Waters, with Notes on Species Composition and Taxonomic Status of the Genus Chitulia (Serpentes, Hydrophiidae). Russian Journal of Marine Biology, 33 (3): 161–165. - get paper here
  • Leviton, A.E., R.M. Brown, and C.D. Siler. 2014. The dangerously venomous snakes of the Philippine Archipelago. in The Coral Triangle: The 2011 Hearst Biodiversity Philippine Expedition (G.C. Williams and T.M. Gosliner, eds.). California Academy of Sciences, USA, Pp 473–530
  • McCarthy,C.J. & Warrel,D.A. 1991. A collection of sea snakes from Thailand with new records of Hydrophis belcheri (GRAY). Bull. Br. Mus. nat. Hist. (Zool.) 57 (2): 161-166
  • McCoy, M. 2000. Reptiles of the Solomon Islands. ZooGraphics, Kuranda (Australia), CD-ROM.
  • McCoy, M. 2006. Reptiles of the Solomon Islands. Pensoft Series Faunistica 57, 212 pp.
  • McCoy, M. 2015. A Field Guide to the Reptiles of the Solomon Islands. Michael McCoy, Kuranda - get paper here
  • McDowell, S. B. 1972. The genera of sea-snakes of the Hydrophis group (Serpentes: Elapidae). Trans. Zool. Soc. Lond 32: 189-247 - get paper here
  • Murphy,J.C.; Cox,M.J. & Voris,H.K. 1999. A key to the sea snakes in the gulf of Thailand. Nat. Hist. Bull. Siam Soc. 47: 95-108
  • Nguyen, S.V., Ho, C.T. and Nguyen, T.Q. 2009. Herpetofauna of Vietnam. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 768 pp.
  • Rasmussen, AR; Murphy, JC; Ompi M; Gibbons JW; Uetz P. 2011. Marine reptiles. PLoS One 6 (11): e27373. - get paper here
  • RASMUSSEN, ARNE REDSTED; JOHAN ELMBERG, PETER GRAVLUND & IVAN INEICH 2011. Sea snakes (Serpentes: subfamilies Hydrophiinae and Laticaudinae) in Vietnam: a comprehensive checklist and an updated identification key. Zootaxa 2894: 1–20 - get paper here
  • RASMUSSEN, ARNE REDSTED; KATE LAURA SANDERS, MICHAEL L. GUINEA & ANDREW P. AMEY 2014. Sea snakes in Australian waters (Serpentes: subfamilies Hydrophiinae and Laticaudinae)—a review with an updated identification key. Zootaxa 3869 (4): 351–371 - get paper here
  • Rasmussen,A.R., Gravlund, P.; Nguyen, C. van; Chanhome, L. 2007. A resurrection of Hydrophis pachycercos Fischer 1855 (Serpentes: Elapidae) with a new neotype from the South China sea. Hamadryad 31 (2): 288-298 - get paper here
  • Sanders, K.L.; Michael S.Y. Lee, Mumpuni, Terry Bertozzi, Arne R. Rasmussen 2012. Multilocus phylogeny and recent rapid radiation of the viviparous sea snakes (Elapidae: Hydrophiinae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66 (3): 575-591 - get paper here
  • Smith, M. A. 1926. Monograph on the Sea Snakes. (Hydrophiidae). London: British Museum, xvii + 130 pp.
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Weinell, Jeffrey L.; Errol Hooper, Alan E. Leviton, Rafe M. Brown 2019. Illustrated Key to the Snakes of the Philippines. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (4) 66 (1): 1-49 - get paper here
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