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On the prowl

More from the beautiful banded sea krait. This one from Lighthouse Reef just north and out of the Havelock channel.

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Deadly but harmless


Meet the banded sea krait, also known as the yellow-lipped sea krait, one of the most beautiful and also deadly creatures I’ve encountered underwater. It’s not a common find but is endemic to the Indian ocean.

As a snake (though there are eels that pose), the krait must return to the surface regularly to breathe. However, respiration aside, the creature is fully at home in water.

Its venom is among the most powerful in the world (allegedly ten times that of a King Cobra) though the snake is all but harmless to divers. It’s mouth is too small to bite large creatures and it is ambivalent to things that are not its prey.

The krait hunting is truly a sight to behold. Almost hypnotic as it weaves in and out of coral and rock.

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Una serpiente muy peligrosa!

Locally known as an equis

The equis, a common lancehead, a rather dangerous pitviper. Not sure of exact species here but it’s also known as a fer-de-lance.

Highly poisonous. Common in the Oriente around Arutam. This one found along a jungle path near a bamboo stand harvested by the Shuar.


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A run-in with a poisonous grasshopper

Tranquilo, little buddy!

This little guy is, at the moment of this photo, climbing my shirt. And, according to Enrique, our volunteer leader, he is rather poisonous.

We were cutting scrub in a plantain garden when we stumbled upon him. Enrique asked if anyone would like to have him climb aboard. It was only when he had climbed my shirt, my shoulder and perched on the back of my neck that Enrique became worried. Apparently, if he became to agitated, I was in trouble.

“Tranquilo, tranquilo!” Enrique kept shouting at me. It took several minutes more for Enrique to tease the angry grasshopper — which when spread out was about the size of my fist — off me.

Good times.

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