We describe a distinctive new subspecies of sea snake from the occasionally anoxic inner-basin waters of Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, based on combined data garnered between 2010 and 2017 for 154 specimens, 123 free-ranging and 31 museum-held. The yellow sea snake, Hydrophis platurus xanthos Bessesen & Galbreath, subsp. n., is diagnosed by a notably smaller body size and nearly uniform yellow coloration, which contrasts with the black and yellow striae and tail spots or bands typical of the species. Within the modest geographic range (circa 320 km2), nearly all specimens possess both diagnostic character states. Bathymetrics appear to restrict genetic flow between this allopatric population and conspecifics in the broader Eastern Pacific. In perspicuous contrast to typical H. platurus, H. p. xanthos shows no association with drift lines, and feeds at night in turbulent waters, assuming a sinusoidal ambush posture never previously reported for the species. This evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) warrants taxonomic recognition and active protection.
- Costa Rica
- Golfo dulce
- Sea snake
- Type specimens
- Yellow color morph
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology
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Supplementary material 1 from: Bessesen BL, Galbreath GJ (2017) A new subspecies of sea snake, Hydrophis platurus xanthos, from Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. ZooKeys 686: 109-123. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.686.12682
Bessesen, B. L. (Contributor) & Galbreath, G. J. (Contributor), ZENODO, 2017