A British man has died after a snakebite so rare, it may be the first in decades.
“A young British man has died after being bitten by a sea snake while working aboard a fishing trawler off Australia’s northern coast,” the Guardian reports.
“The 23-year-old was bitten as he pulled up a net, when the vessel was about 70 nautical miles south of Groote Eylandt, an island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory police said,” the Guardian reports.
Sea snakes are among the world’s most venomous animals, yet deaths from sea snake bites are so rare it’s hard to find a recorded one. The Guardian reports there’s never been one recorded in Australia.
There are several reasons why the man’s death is so unusual. Given their sea habitat, interactions between humans and sea snakes are rare. When human come into contact with sea snakes, the reptiles are usually docile. In the very rare instance a human is bitten by a sea snake, venom is rarely injected. The venom is a neurotoxin, and when it is injected in some cases the person is unaware they were even bitten.