Wild Things: Life as We Know It

Hummingbirds, birch trees, queen bees, northern quolls and more...

Northern quolls, cat-size Australian marsupials (FLPA / David Hosking / AGE Fotostock)

Sleek Stripes

sea snakes striped
(Cheryl Carlin)
Why are so many sea snakes striped? University of Sydney scientists say solid black sea snakes may be at a disadvantage: they are coated with more algae, which slows them down. In underwater lab tests algae bloomed faster on all-dark surfaces, the scientists found; such fuzz causes so much drag it reduces the serpents’ speed by about 20 percent. No wonder black, algae-covered snakes are more often found skulking in coral hideaways than out-and-about striped snakes.

Learn more about sea snakes at the Encyclopedia of Life.

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