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

"Ecology: aquatic, diurnal, nektonic, predator, inshore; perenially active, viviparous, piscivore, coral reefs."

(Cogger et al., 1983:242)



Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.1.94 (Cogger et al., 1983:242)

Type locality: "Ashmore Reefs, Australia" (Cogger et al., 1983:242)


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.

Cogger, Harold G., Cameron, Elizabeth E. and Cogger, Heather M. (1983). Hydrophiidae, pp. 241-256. In: Zoological Catalogue of Australia. I. Amphibia and Reptilia. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. vi + 313 pp. [p. 242]

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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