Ministry dismisses ‘sea snakes on Omani beaches’ reports

MUSCAT, Feb 12 – The Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs on Tuesday dismissed as “unfounded and not reliable” the reports on social media that sea snakes were found in Oman’s beaches. The news, along with the photograph of a venomous snake, circulated on social media, sparking panic among beachgoers. “We have not received any information about sea snakes being sighted on our shores,” said Saleh al Sa’adi, Director of Biodiversity Department, Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs. Social media reports indicated “sea snakes are coming to seashore in some beaches in Oman because of climate change. We need to take extra care. They are poisonous snakes”.

Saleh said sea snakes live in the deep sea and the chances of they being spotted on the shores are unlikely. “If anyone has spotted it, please send a photograph to the ministry,” he said. “The photograph doing the rounds on social media does not mean it was on Oman’s shores.” According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an increasing number of venomous bites, stings and encounters with poisonous creatures due to climate change was possible.

Some species of sea creatures that might shift their direction poleward due to waters turning warm include lionfish, sea snakes, starfish and different types of venomous jellyfish. Saleh, however, said in Oman’s context, these sea snakes are “highly unlikely” to come to the shores unless there’s a major change in seas such as a drastic change in climate that shake their habitat or any untoward incident. Having said that, he said these snakes can adapt to any climate change.