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Hydrophis pacificus BOULENGER, 1896

IUCN Red List - Hydrophis pacificus - Near Threatened, NT

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Pacific seasnake 
SynonymHydrophis pacificus BOULENGER 1896: 278
Distira macfarlani BOULENGER 1896: 294
Hydrophis (Leioselasma) pacifucus — MCDOWELL 1972
Hydrophis pacificus — COGGER 1983: 253
Leioselasma pacificus — KHARIN 1984
Leioselasma pacifica — WELCH 1994: 71
Hydrophis pacificus — COGGER 2000: 719
Leioselasma pacifica — KHARIN 2005
Hydropis pacificus — LUKOSCHEK et al. 2006
Hydrophis pacificus — WILSON & SWAN 2010: 530
Hydrophis pacificus — SANDERS et al. 2013 [by implication]
Leioselasma pacifica — WALLACH et al. 2014: 367 
DistributionIndonesian Sea (New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago), Gilbert Islands,
Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland)

Type locality: New Britain, Papua New Guinea.  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.10.14
Syntypes: BMNH 1946.1.3.92-93, from Murray Is., Torres Strait, Qld. [Distira macfarlani]. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: From other species of the genus L. pacifica (= H. pacificus) is well distinguished by the minimum number of teeth on the pterygoideum (7–9 as opposed to 13–18), from L. cyanocincta it also differs by the structure of the body scales (in L. cyanocincta the scales are provided with a keel bearing two dents; in L. pacifica the scales are smooth or with a poorly pronounced keel lacking dents). L. pacifica differs from L. elegans in the smaller number of ventrals (326–329 as opposed to 345–432: our materials, 34 specimens, and data from the literature, Smith 1926, 20 specimens, and Cogger 1975, 82 specimens) and the contact between three supralabials and the eye (in L. elegans only two supralabials are in contact with the eye). Some authors believe that 5 specimens of sea snakes found in the shelf of northern Australia actually belong to Hydrophis (Leioselasma) pacificus. However, judging from the description (the presence of two rows of black spots and a great number of scales around the middle of the body, namely 45–49 as opposed to 37), these snakes should be referred to as the species L. czeblukovi Kharin, 1984 described from the Arafura Sea. Some authors referred to Distura macfarlani from the coast of Murray Island as L. pacifica; however an examination of a syntype of the latter species (BMNH 1946.1.1.97) showed that it is entirely conspecific with L. elegans [after KHARIN 2005].

L. pacificus was introduced into the synonymy of L. cyanocincta, then it was considered as a junior synonym for C. belcheri and L. elegans.

Habitat: marine. 
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - 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.
  • Kharin V E 1984. A review of sea snakes of the group Hydrophis sensu lato (Serpentes, Hydrophiidae). 3. The genus Leioselasma [in Russian]. Zoologicheskii Zhurnal 63 (10): 1535-1546
  • 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. 2005. On new findings of a rare sea snake Leioselasma czeblukovi Kharin, 1984, with remarks on species composition and taxonomical position of the genus Leioselasma Lacepede, 1804, (Serpentes: Hydrophiidae). Russian Journal of Marine Biology 31 (5): 269-272. - get paper here
  • Kharin, Vladimir E.; Jakob Hallermann 2009. Annotated catalogue of sea kraits (Laticaudidae) and sea snakes (Hydrophiidae) of the herpetological collection of the Zoological Museum, University of Hamburg. Mitt. hamb. zool. Mus. Inst. 106: 51-67
  • LUKOSCHEK, VIMOKSALEHI and J. SCOTT KEOGH 2006. Molecular phylogeny of sea snakes reveals a rapidly diverged adaptive radiation. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 89: 523–539 - 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
  • O'Shea,M. 1996. A Guide to the Snakes of Papua New Guinea. Independent Publishing, Port Moresby, xii + 239 pp. - get paper here
  • Porter, Robert; Irwin, Steve; Irwin, Terri;Rodrigues, Keith 1997. Records of marine snake species from the Hey-Embley and Mission Rivers, far North Queensland. Herpetofauna (Sydney) 27 (2): 2-7
  • Rasmussen, A. R. & I. INEICH 2000. Sea snakes of New Caledonia and surrounding waters (Serpentes: Elapidae): first report on the occurence of Lapemis curtus and description of new species from the genus Hydrophis. Hamadryad 25 (2): 91-99 - 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
  • Shine, Richard; Claire Goiran, Catherine Shilton, Shai Meiri, Gregory P Brown 2019. The life aquatic: an association between habitat type and skin thickness in snakes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, blz136 - 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.
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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