El Niño Brings Extremely Venomous Sea Snakes To California

There’s no guarantee El Niño will bring rain to a drought-stricken California, but it has brought poisonous sea snakes.

People in the southern California city of Oxnard stumbled across a highly venomous yellow-bellied sea snake on the beach last week.

“I didn’t want some young kid not knowing what it was … pick it up and possibly get injured,” Bob Forbes, who found the snake, told ABC News. Forbes said he put the two-foot-long animal in a bucket with water and brought it home to ensure “people were safe from it.” He called the authorities, but the snake soon died, according to ABC. (Other beachgoers who reported seeing a snake the previous day likely encountered the same one Forbes did.)

If you see a yellow-bellied sea snake, PLS don’t handle it! Report it: http://t.co/HeDYEPWq92 pic.twitter.com/OQ9c8Cl10i

— Heal the Bay (@HealTheBay) October 17, 2015

Normally, yellow-bellied sea snakes limit themselves to the warmer areas of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. This year, a large El Niño, which periodically disrupts the tropical Pacific’s normal weather system, is shifting much of that warm water to the north, bringing tropical species — snakes included — with it.

According to Greg Pauly, curator of herpetology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the last time a sea snake washed up in California was in 1972, and it came ashore about 100 miles south of Oxnard.

The snake found last week is “the northernmost sea snake ever documented in the Pacific Coast of North America,” Pauly told CNN. “I never would have thought that a sea snake would wash up that far up north.”

“Because the water is so warm here now, these snakes can swim, hunt and reproduce just —> Read More