This afternoon finds me doing a bit of research on wildlife in the Gulf region. It’s always a good idea to have some familiarity with the critters where you live (or are going to live soon), after all. I went to this site, The Environmental Atlas of Abu Dhabi, to learn what I could. Particularly, I wanted to learn about the region’s poisonous/venomous snakes. I’m not afraid of snakes, but I want to be well-informed about any dangerous ones.
As it turns out, the Persian Gulf, like the east coast of Africa, has several sea snakes which are very poisonous. Here’s an illustration of one, the beaked sea snake, from Wikipedia:
These suckers are a lot like eels, but they have scales. While sea snakes are highly venomous, they are also are not aggressive. In fact, I read about one species which often gets into fisherman’s nets and when the fishermen pull the nets from the sea, they untangle the snakes from the nets and toss them back into the water with, as the site said, impunity. So that’s nice to know.
Another venomous snake that lives in the Gulf area is the Sind Saw-scaled Viper, which has a broad, arrow-shaped head and a thick body. There is a forum called Venomdoc, where I found this image, taken in Sharjah, of a Sind Saw-scaled Viper: As you can see, this guy is pretty distinctive, and while he’s relatively small compared to some big snakes out there (around 3 feet), he’s aggressive and dangerous.
Finally, I found a nifty PDF of an old Air Force guide to poisonous snakes in Europe, Africa, and the near east here: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/727709.pdf. The guide takes a while establishing that, with a few basic precautions, the chances of getting bitten are very low, and chances of death from a bite are extremely low.
I learned something.