Underwater hearing in sea snakes (Hydrophiinae): first evidence of auditory evoked potential thresholds

Lucille Chapuis, Caroline C. Kerr, Shaun P. Collin, Nathan S. Hart, Kate L. Sanders

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    14 Citations (Scopus)
    33 Downloads (Pure)


    The viviparous sea snakes (Hydrophiinae) are a secondarily aquatic radiation of more than 60 species that possess many phenotypic adaptations to marine life. However, virtually nothing is known of the role and sensitivity of hearing in sea snakes. This study investigated the hearing sensitivity of the fully marine sea snake Hydrophis stokesii by measuring auditory evoked potential (AEP) audiograms for two individuals. AEPs were recorded from 40 Hz (the lowest frequency tested) up to 600 Hz, with a peak in sensitivity identified at 60 Hz (163.5 dB re. 1 µPa or 123 dB re. 1 µm s-2). Our data suggest that sea snakes are sensitive to low-frequency sounds but have relatively low sensitivity compared with bony fishes and marine turtles. Additional studies are required to understand the role of sound in sea snake life history and further assess these species' vulnerability to anthropogenic noise.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberjeb198184
    Pages (from-to)1-7
    Number of pages9
    JournalThe Journal of experimental biology
    Issue number14
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Hydrophis stokesii
    • anthropogenic noise
    • audiogram
    • reptile
    • hearing ability
    • auditory sensitivity
    • seismic survey


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