Color variation of the sea snake Pelamis platura (Serpentes: Elapidae) in Golfo Dulce, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Keywords:Reptilia, Serpentes, Elapidae, Pelamis platura, color pattern, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica.
The yellow-bellied sea snake (Pelamis platura) is the most widely distributed of the marine snakes, and throughout its range this species exhibits extensive variation in color and pattern. The coloration of most individuals is black with brown and/or yellow, displayed within a variable pattern, although patternless bright-yellow individuals have been reported from certain localities in Costa Rica and Panama. Recently, within Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica, a population was discovered in which all individuals displayed extensive amounts of yellow coloration. The evidence suggests that the circulation patterns of the surface currents within and outside of this fjord-like gulf apparently are strong enough to interrupt the flow (or genetic interchange) among the oceanic and gulf populations. The lack or loss of dark pigment in the dorsum of the Golfo Dulce population might be due to the water temperatures and other specific conditions in the interior of this anoxic basin, the only one in the Pacific coast of Western Hemisphere.
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