11 differences between eels & sea snakes! From electric eels to venomous sea snakes (the most toxic sea snakes in the world), we'll highlight everything you need to know about these creatures.
Type of animal
Eels are a specific type of elongated fish and can be found in marine and freshwater environments. Sea snakes are reptiles and they are only found in marine environments. They are much flatter, in the vertical sense, than a snake. In addition, these fish’s heads tend to be longer and sharper. Eels also have fins, which sea snakes never have.
Sea snakes are found throughout the coastal waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans. They do not occur in the Red Sea, Atlantic Ocean, or Caribbean Sea. Most sea snakes live in shallow water less than 30 meters (100 feet) deep because they need to surface to breathe yet must seek their prey near the sea floor. However, the yellow-bellied sea snake may be found in the open ocean.
Eels is an ambush predator, spending a considerable amount of time hidden in caves, rock crevices, or coral reefs. When a prey animal passes by, it pounces on it. Depending on the prey type, the eel might wrap itself around it, and crush the victim until it is small enough to be swallowed, or it might tear pieces from the body and eat the prey bite-by-bite. Sea snakes are generally reluctant to bite, and are usually considered to be mild-tempered, although variation is seen among species and individuals.
The European eel is a critically endangered species. Since the 1970s, the numbers of eels reaching Europe is thought to have declined by around 98%.
Nostrils of sea snakes are equipped with moveable valves that prevent water to enter the nose when they are under the water.
The tubular nostrils spotted on eels are believed to help them detect prey.
Size and diet
Depending on the species, eels can grow to be anywhere between 4 inches to 11 1/2 feet long. However, most sea snakes grow to sizes between 3.9 to 4.9 feet long. Largest sea snake can reach 9.8 feet in length. Eels are carnivorous, meaning they are meat eaters. They eat a variety of animals such as worms, snails, frogs, shrimp, mussels, lizards and other small fish.
Eels have gills, as most other fish do, and filter air from the water in order to breathe. This means that they never have to go to the surface. Snakes, on the other hand, do not have gills, but lungs.
Sea snakes can dive to the depth of 300 feet. On average, they dive for 30 minutes. Sea snakes can survive for more than 10 years in the wild.
Mating season of sea snakes depends on the species. Only several species will lay eggs on the solid ground. Most species give birth to live snakes. Females give birth once in two year. he gestation period varies wildly, anywhere between 4 and 11 months, and is dependent on a number of factors, including abundance of food, water temperature and the age and health of the female. Once born, the young are on their own; the adults have no parental instincts at all. The number of babies ranges from couple to more than 25.
Sea snakes flick their tongues to gain chemical and thermal information about their environment. Sea snake tongues are shorter than those of regular snakes because it's easier to "taste" molecules in water than in air. There is no much information about sea snake vision, but it appears to play a limited role in catching prey and selecting mates.
The eel’s scales are much smaller and give the animal a smoother appearance, though. Sea snakes even have a special scale that let them feel movements in the water. They developed a scaly organ on their heads which lets them "see" underwater.
The sensors, known as scale sensilla, are sensitive organs that protrude from scales on a snake's head. These head-organs facilitate awareness of water movements, but the extent of their awareness isn't well understood.
Sea snakes are almost always venomous, whether it is a mild venom or, in many cases, one of the most toxic. The most poisonous one is the Beaked Sea Snake. Just 3 drops of venom can kill about 8 people! Fortunately, these snakes have short fangs and they are unable to bite through diver’s suits very easily. Other than venom, some sea snakes produce enzyme that induces digestion of the prey from the moment of bite. Symptoms of sea snake poisoning include headache, stiffness, and muscle pain throughout the body. Thirst, sweating, vomiting, and a thick-feeling tongue may result. Muscle degradation and paralysis ensue. Death occurs if the muscles involved in swallowing and respiration are affected. Because bites are so rare, antivenin is next to impossible to obtain. Eels, on the other hand, are not venomous, but can deliver a nasty bite if you offer your hand. Further reinforcing the “don’t touch” creed divers should all know well!