Journal of Ecology and Environment

pISSN 2287-8327 eISSN 2288-1220


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Published online October 24, 2016

Journal of Ecology and Environment (2016) 40:01

© The Ecological Society of Korea.

Chinese sea snake (Laticauda semifasciata) misidentified as slender-necked sea snake in previous published account in Korea

Il-Hun Kim1,2, Jaejin Park1, Robert H. Kaplan3, Jong-Nam Lee4 and Daesik Park5

Department of Biology, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, South Korea; Marine Biodiversity Institute of Korea, Seocheon, South Korea; Department of Biology, Reed College, Portland, USA; Department of Biology, Kyungsung University, Busan, South Korea; Division of Science Education, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, South Korea

Correspondence to:Daesik Park

Received: December 22, 2015; Accepted: June 24, 2016

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


Recent ocean warming near the Korean peninsula and our lack of knowledge of an important vertebrate group, the sea snakes, encouraged us to clarify this part of Korea’s regional fauna. We re-examined photographs that had been used to report the slender-necked sea snake (Hydrophis melanocephalus) in 1995. We discovered it was misidentified. To determine the correct identity of the sea snake, we studied 13 original photographs taken at the collecting site in Sooyoung Bay, Busan-si, in 1995 and determined the snake to be Laticauda semifasciata based on enlarged ventral scales, definitive for Laticaudinae sea snakes, and internasal scales, pale blue body color, divided rostral scale, and evident “V”-shaped stripes on the body trunk, definitive for L. semifasciata. Therefore, the snake caught 30 years ago in Korean waters should be considered the first record of a Laticaudinae sea snake in Korean waters. L. semifasciata is listed as near threatened setting the stage for urgently needed studies of sea snakes in Korea and supporting those currently underway.

Keywords: Korea, Sea snake, Hydrophiinae, Laticaudinae, Laticauda semifasciata

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Journal of Ecology and Environment

pISSN 2287-8327 eISSN 2288-1220