Collection, Toxicity, and Preliminary Pharmacology of Venom from the Sea Snake, 'Pelamis platurus'
Technical rept., Mar 1971-Jan 1973
EDGEWOOD ARSENAL ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD
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A series of scientific studies was carried out to determine the feeding habits, distribution, and toxicity of three representatives of the sea snake family Hydrophidae. Mating and migratory habits were charted during specific times of each year in the South China Sea and in the South Pacific. The amazing diving and breath-holding capabilities of the sea snakes were also explored using deep diving gear and underwater photography. One hundred of each of three species of sea snakes Laticauda semifasciata, L. laticaudita, Pelamis platurus were captured and their venom collected by a series of milkings. Results indicate that sea snake venom is one of the most potent venoms known to man, and it is capable of producing respiratory paralysis within 12 to 15 minutes following envenomation. The actual lethal dose of sea snake venom in mice is 0.05 mgkg as compared with 05 mgkg for the cobra, and 5.0 mgkg for the rattlesnake. The possible importance of the migratory habits of the sea snake in maintaining or disturbing the balance of nature between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans has also been explored. The ecological significance of these findings are discussed, as well as the potential problem that these reptiles pose to professional and amateur divers.