ISSN 1063-0740, Russian Journal of Marine Biology, 2006, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 223–228. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2006.
Original Russian Text © V.E. Kharin, 2006, published in Biologiya Morya.
The ﬁrst information about the species composition
of sea snakes of Vietnam was published in the late nine-
teenth and early twentieth centuries [20, 30] and was
related to the southern areas of French Indochina
(Cochin China and Annam). Later on, these data were
summarized in the fundamental reviews by Smith [23–
27] and Bourret [12, 13].
In the second half of the twentieth century, some
papers appeared in which the data on biology were sup-
plemented with information on species composition
[8–11, 14, 16, 17] and the records of sea snake species
new for Vietnamese waters [4, 6, 28].
During the 30th cruise of RV “Akademik Oparin”
(winter of 2004–2005), a yellow-lipped sea krait
(Schneider, 1799) was captured in
Vietnamese waters. This was the second record for this
species. The ﬁrst specimen was sampled by
O.G. Kusakin (MIMB 12620, Ben Goi Bay, Hon Hoi
W) . In the Paciﬁc
waters of Indochina, this sea snake is extremely rare.
Until now, it has been known from only two specimens
from this area labeled “Siam” (now Thailand) and “Sin-
gapore” [25, 29]. It is pertinent to note that the question
about the taxonomical status of snakes belonging to this
genus is still under discussion. Earlier on, they were
referred to as members of the subfamily Laticaudinae
of the family Hydrophiidae Boie, 1827, i.e., the sea
snakes [1–3] or family Elapidae Boie, 1827, or asp
snakes . The author of this paper, following Burger
and Natsuno , consider these species (together with
the species of the genus
as members of the family Laticaudidae Cope, 1879, i.e.,
sea kraits .
In connection with the opportunity for further Rus-
sian–Vietnamese investigations of the marine fauna in
Vietnam, the necessity arose to summarize the litera-
ture and collection data on species composition and dis-
tribution of sea snakes of this region and to provide
identiﬁcation keys for all known species. As the mate-
rials for this paper, we used the collections of the Zoo-
logical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (ZIN),
the Paciﬁc Center of Scientiﬁc Fisheries (TINRO), and
the Museum of the Institute of Marine Biology, Far
East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences (MIMB).
We also present data on sea snakes collected in the
waters of Vietnam from the collections of the Museum
of Comparative Zoology, Harvard (MCZ) and the
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology of the University of
California, Berkeley (MVZ). In the list of species, the
information on distribution of certain species is limited
to Vietnamese waters; the distribution of the listed spe-
cies of sea snakes in general is described in annotated
catalogues [7, 18, 31].
Detailed synonymy is presented in the papers by
Smith , Taylor , and Kharin [3, 7].
A male. MIMB 12624, RV “Akademik
Oparin,” South China Sea, 12
Island, close to Mung Island; 5 m deep; January 16,
2005; coll. Yu.Ya. Latypov.
Maxillare is extended forward, far
beyond the palatinum; is signiﬁcantly shorter than
An Annotated Checklist of Sea Snakes of Vietnam,
with Notes on a New Record of the Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait,
V. E. Kharin
Institute of Marine Biology, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok, 690041 Russia
Received May 12, 2005
—The yellow-lipped sea krait,
(Schneider, 1799), is recorded in the waters of
Vietnam for the second time. The morphological characteristics of this species are described. Identiﬁcation
keys, a checklist, and distribution data for sea snakes of Vietnam are provided, proceeding from museum col-
lections and extensive analysis of the available literature.
P. Schmidt, 1852 and
(Gray, 1849) are registered for the ﬁrst time for Vietnamese waters.
yellow-lipped sea krait,
, second record, annotated checklist, identiﬁcation
key, sea snakes, Vietnam.