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The Duke meets a sea snake

There are 55 species of snakes that live their entire lives in the ocean, called sea snakes. The snakes have become so good at living in the water that they cannot even crawl on the land because of how their scales have changed.

Living surrounded by water, it may be hard to believe, but sea snakes can get thirsty. They can’t drink salty seawater.

A Florida professor did some research and found that sea snakes can find fresh water on the surface of the ocean after a heavy rain. For a little while the downpour makes the top of the water less salty, so the fish can drink.

Sea snakes can grow to be about 3 to 5 feet long. Most have poisonous bites, but they rarely bite humans because they are shy.

Sea snakes feed by diving into the water and eating fish eggs, eel or fish. Because they dive, sea snakes are usually found in shallow water. Most species are found in the Indian and western Pacific oceans.

The exception is the yellow-bellied sea snake, which lives on the open water of the Pacific Ocean between Africa and the Americas. Because it floats around on the ocean, it roams farther than most other animals with a backbone.

Unlike snakes that live on the land, sea snakes have a flatter body and their tail is shaped kind of like an oar. Their scales, instead of overlapping like shingles on a roof, are end to end.

— Brett French, french@billingsgazette.com

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Montana Untamed Editor

Montana Untamed editor for the Billings Gazette.