Sea Snake in Paje

“How are you enjoying your sunburn?” the bartender asked with a grin.

I handed him a 1000 Tanzanian shillings note for the bottle of water I was buying.

“Sunburn?”

“I can tell,” he said, still grinning.

I shrugged nonchalantly, not quite believing him. “Eh, it’ll be okay.”

I thanked him for the water and headed to the beach. I hadn’t been sunburned in years and the last time was because I had been on a beach in the Bahamas in the sun all day when it was well over 90 degrees.

…I guess Paje wasn’t so different. I was suddenly glad that I had brought a beach wrap with me and I draped it over my shoulders. I had planned to do some water sports while I still had time in Paje, but I felt so relaxed, all I wanted to do was hang out on the sand. Around 1pm, I went out to explore the sandbars exposed at low tide, but this time I went with my friends Christina and Wendi. After maybe 10 minutes or so, my shoulders began to hurt and I realized that the bartender really had honed in on my sunburn before I had!

I saw some of the same creatures I had seen the day before such as the huffy striped transparent shrimp on the sandbar, but this time was more exciting. Christina occasionally jumped after stepping on things that moved. It only happened to her for most of the time we were out there, and then it happened to Wendi and me. We still don’t know what she was stepping on, but they could have been fish, crabs, or maybe small rays. We hadn’t minutes when one of them shouted “snake!” Just a few feet in front of us, a white snake with black stripes was calmly winding past us beneath the shallow waves. I’m not kidding when I say ‘shallow,’ that water was a foot and a half deep at most. I almost didn’t see the snake because it was barely opaque. We quickly debated whether we thought it was poisonous or not, but because it had blended it so well against the sand, we bet that it wasn’t.

“Corinne, get a video of it!”

Christina tossed me her GoPro and I followed the snake as closely as I dared. I love snakes and this one was beautiful, but I wasn’t trying to get bitten 15 minutes from shore. Well, I preferred not to get bitten at all. The snake didn’t mind us even a little so I dunked the GoPro under the water and hoped that I got a decent video. Days later, we learned that the majority of Hydrophiidae (aka: sea snakes) are highly venomous and I suddenly felt pretty foolish for chasing after one with a camera.

I still don’t know the name of the species and unfortunately I don’t have any photos. White sea snake with black stripes. Any ideas, blogosphere?

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