Aipysurus apraefrontalis Smith, 1926:24

Short-nosed sea snake, Sahul reef snake



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Smithsohydrophis apraefrontalis Smith, 1926:24


According to the dichotomous key provided by (Rasmussen, 2001), the Short-nosed sea snake (Aipysurus apraefrontalis) exhibits the following unique combination of characters:

* "Less than 180 ventral scales"
* "Ventrals with a deep notch at posterior border"
* "Less than 19 scale rows around midbody; prefrontal scales absent"


The original rediscovery population may represent an undescribed species:


Conservation Status

Last record: 2000

Rediscovered in 2021 (Kilvert, 2021)

IUCN RedList status: Critically Endangered



Ashmore and Hibernia Reefs, northern Australia


Biology & Ecology




Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.1.94


Other specimens:

AMNH 43355

A dead specimen washed up on a Western Australian beach. Two photos can be found [url=]here[/url] and [url=]here[/url].

A photo of another specimen can be seen here:






Original scientific description:

Smith, M. A. (1926). Monograph of the Sea Snakes (Hydrophiidae). London: British Museum (Natural History). xvii + 130 pp.


Other references:

Aplin, K. P. and Smith, L. A. (2001). Checklist of the frogs and reptiles of Westem Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement No. 63: 51-74.

Clayton, M., Wombey, J.C., Mason, I.J., Chesser, R.T. & Wells, A. 2006. CSIRO List of Australian Vertebrates: A Reference with Conservation Status. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing iv 162 pp.

Cogger, H.G. 1975. The sea snakes of Australia and New Guinea. pp. 59-139 in Dunson, W. (ed.). The Biology of Sea Snakes. Baltimore : University Park Press.

D'Anastasi, B. R., van Herwerden, L., Hobbs, J. A., Simpfendorfer, C. A. and Lukoschek, V. (2016). New range and habitat records for threatened Australian sea snakes raise challenges for conservation. Biological Conservation 194: 66-70. [Abstract]

Elfes, Cristiane T. et al. (2013). Fascinating and forgotten: the conservation status of marine elapid snakes. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 8(1): 37-52.

Kilvert, Nick. (20 April, 2021). Sea snake feared locally extinct rediscovered in 'twilight zone' on Ashmore Reef. ABC News (online), available at: [Accessed 24 October 2021]

Lukoschek, Vimoksalehi et al. (2013). Enigmatic declines of Australia’s sea snakes from a biodiversity hotspot. Biological Conservation 166: 191-202.

Lukoschek, V., Guinea, M. & Milton, D. (2009). Aipysurus apraefrontalis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. ( Downloaded on 11 September 2011.

Rasmussen, Arne Redsted. (2001). Sea snakes. In: Carpenter, K.E. and Niem, V.H. (Eds.) Living Marine resources of the Western central Pacific. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, pp. 3987-4000. [available from: www[dot]fisheries[dot]go[dot]th/if-suratthani/web2/images/download/v666.pdf]

Rasmussen, Arne Redsted, Sanders, Kate Laura, Guinea, Michael L. and Amey, Andrew P. (2014). Sea snakes in Australian waters (Serpentes: subfamilies Hydrophiinae and Laticaudinae)—a review with an updated identification key. Zootaxa 3869(4): 351-371.

Regalado, Pedro Galán. (2015). Los Anfibios y Reptiles Extinguidos: Herpetofauna Desaparecida Desde el Año 1500. Monografías de la Universidade da Coruña 155: 1-509.

Sanders, K. L., Schroeder, T., Guinea, M. L. and Rasmussen, A. R. (2015). Molecules and Morphology Reveal Overlooked Populations of Two Presumed Extinct Australian Sea Snakes (Aipysurus: Hydrophiinae). PLoS ONE 10(2): e0115679.

Smith, L. A. (1974). The sea snakes of Western Australia (Serpentes: Elapidae: Hydrophiinae) with a description of a new subspecies. Rec. West. Aust. Mus. 3: 93-110.


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