Workshop: fishers and sea snakes
Duration: Sep 2018
Type: Education and rising Awareness
Taxon: Sea snakes
QECI's Role: Lecturer
Sponsors: The municipalities of Tabl village; and also
The annulated sea snakes (Hydrophis cyanocinctus), along with the short sea snakes (H. curtus) and the Persian Gulf sea snakes (H. lapemoides), are the most abundant sea snakes in the Persian Gulf.
- Most people think sea snakes do not entangle in fishing nets as their tube-like body diameter is smaller than the mesh size. It is completely wrong! Because of their elongated body, they very easily entangle in the nets. Actually, accidental bycatch is one of the most important threats to these marine reptiles along their geographical distribution range. Removing and releasing live bycaught sea snakes, like the beaked sea snake (Hydrophis schistosus) in this video, with enough caution not only can reduce post-releasing mortality, but is also safe for the fishers who touch theis highly venomous animals.
Annulated sea snakes are dominant in Hara Biosphere Reserve, the largest mangrove swamp in the Persian Gulf (~8000 km2), where they almost exclusively prey on mudskippers (ref). Nonetheless, annulated sea snakes in the biosphere reserve suffer from local fishing activities. The snakes entangled in the fish-nets can die as they cannot surface to breathe. Further, even when fishers find the snakes alive, they may remove them from the nets without caution, which is harmful for both the snake and the fisher. The forcible removal from the nets may cause irrecoverable injuries for sea snakes, and also may provoke the animal to bite.
Therefore, in a one-day workshop held for local fishers from the villages around the biosphere reserve, we first discuss the role that sea snakes play in sustainability of marine food chains, and that why protecting sea snakes is important. Then the participants were trained for safely removing snakes from the nets and releasing them back to the sea, so that neither the fisher is bitten nor the snake is harmed. The participants were also trained about the emergency first aid that they need to follow in the case of sea snake envenomation.
- Fishers usually have a lot of free times on their hands while working offshore on the boat! Most of them like to read through illustrated waterproof factsheets and brochures during these times and learn about creatures that they encounter in the nets.