sea snake

Snake Survival Episode 1. Sea snake. The Andaman Islands

If you always live your life in the moment you’ll have a better chance of sensing and avoiding danger. Most people attacked by animals and reptiles just wander into the threat arena, their minds are thinking of yesterday or tomorrow they’re not right here, right now, in the present and then wham!  Snakebite. Now I’m not perfect and I stress just like you – but I know that I have a better chance of surviving in the wild if I am calm and living in the present. Wayne’s Snake Survival Episode 1 starts now.

11 am. An uninhabited island chain.

I am snorkeling in the pristine waters of the Andaman Sea, My newly found friend and I were left on this little deserted island an hour ago by a small motor boat that putt-putted out from the capital  of the Andaman Islands, Port Blair. We’ve going to get picked up at 4pm by the same boat. There is no mobile reception. We have water and some snacks. There is no other human anywhere, just these small islands with their shorelines covered in shells you ‘d see on shelves in shops with big price tags.  There’s a soft breeze ruffling the leaning palm trees and the water visibility is incredible, with shoals of multi-colored fish swaying like a curtain the current.   It’s now 11am in the morning on a beautiful blue sky day about 30 degrees Celsius. My companion, a lovely but very private African American woman I met on the island is strolling in the shallows, I met her the night before in Port Blair at one of the few hotels. It seems like we are the only foreigners in town and we’re drawn to each other. She’s using me as bit of protection from the preying eyes of the local men, brave to be travelling alone in such a faraway place as the Andaman Islands.

It’s feels like we are the only humans in a new world. The sea birds are curious, chatting about us – there is no rubbish anywhere no sign of human existence except for us, here in our playground until our pick-up boat makes the 40 minute journey out from sleepy Port Blair to take us home – but this also feels like home.

And I am just floating looking down , 5 meters or so from shore with the depths below me much the same. I am  swaying in the current, like the shoals of fish with their swaying tails and flickering pectoral fins, like the dancing  tresses of seaweed almost neon green in the shafting light, everything seems to be dancing and I am lulled, hypnotized. And then  the Sea Snake is suddenly there, electric blue and black bands all along its body, it seems twice the width of a normal snake, so muscular, could be a more than a metre and a half. It’s  come up towards me from the sandy depths and there’s that face staring in through the glass of my mask, let’s look at each other. It sways as I sway, not touching for a minute of more, just sensing, then slowly it unwinds to its length and flicks its body and ribbons away into the blue deep again. Highly toxic.

So let’s talk that again. 1/ No mobile reception. 2/ A small boat with an outboard skippered by a young local teenage boy coming back from the main land to pick us up in five hours. 3/ No chance of a passing boat. 4/ My traveling companion almost out of earshot. 4/ No first aid kit and little knowledge to use one if we did. But staying in the moment, in the beauty of those immaculate waters, I felt no fear. I felt no need to panic – or maybe not panicking was almost an unconscious reflex. Either way, I stayed in the moment and my beautiful highly toxic friend met me and unhurried, went on its way.  So just one lesson. Or maybe two. Stay in the moment. Behave appropriately.


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