Detailed species information from your search of the Atlas.
Scientific name:
Pelamis platura
Common name:
yellow-bellied sea-snake
Naming authority:
Linnaeus, 1766
Bio status category:
Indigenous (Non-endemic)
IUCN threat status:
Lower Risk: least concern
NZ threat classification:
Not Threatened

Refer to for NZ threat classification system details.

yellow-bellied sea-snake. Photo: GH Balazs.
yellow-bellied sea-snake


  • Tropical oceans.


  • Upper half of the body dark; lower half yellowish.
  • The two colours usually meet abruptly to form a straight line along each side.
  • Long head.
  • Belly scales similar size to other body-scales.
  • Tail compressed sideways to form a paddle; yellowish with large dark spots.
  • Measures up to 1 m in total length.


  • Indian and Pacific Oceans.
  • Relatively regular visitor to northern New Zealand, and occasionally found as far south as Taranaki, Wairarapa coast and Nelson.


  • The most widely distributed of all sea-snakes.
  • The scientific name means 'flat-tailed'.
  • Venomous snake.
  • Notes about 2012-14 cycle of NZ threat classification for Reptiles: (Hitchmough, et al.
  • 2012): No records of this species breeding in NZ, but info on sea temperature requirements and ecology suggests they are resident and likely to breed around the Kermadecs.

Statistical information and distribution map

  Before 1988 Since 1988
Live Specimen 45 23
Dead Specimen 7 12
Bone 2 0
Total 54 35

  Live or dead specimen or shed skin
  Bone or fossil

yellow-bellied sea-snake Distribution Map.'
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