British man dies from sea snake bite in the NT

A Yellow-bellied Sea Snake

Save Save A Yellow-bellied Sea Snake Credit Quentin Jones

A British fisherman was bitten by a sea snake while working on a trawler off the northern Australian coast and died before a rescue helicopter could reach him, officials said Friday.

The 23-year-old, who was working aboard a vessel about 70 nautical miles south of Groote Eyland, was bitten as he pulled up a net at around 12am on Thursday.

All known species of sea snake are venomous and "produce some of the most unsafe venoms known in the animal kingdom", the Marine Education Society of Australia said.

St John Ambulance operations manager Craig Garraway said they co-ordinated with the Groote Eylandt Health Clinic and police who responded.

"A trawler off Groote Eylandt had reported that one of their male crewmen had been bitten by a sea snake", Mr Garraway said.

It is not yet known which species of sea snake was involved.

They grow to between 120cm and 150cm but can get as long as three metres, and are considered to be non-aggressive.

Northern Territory Police confirmed the British Embassy had been notified and said a post-mortem would be conducted on the man's body.

Sea snakes are mostly found in tropical waters from south-east Asia to northern Australia.

"We were just sitting at the mouth of Sampan having a fish, throwing some vibes around, and I happened to hook a sea snake on my vibe and while I was trying to find the scissors to cut it off it rolled up the line", he told the NT News.

In November 2013 a 20-year-old UK-born man died while working on a prawn trawler.

"Most sea snake bites occur on trawlers when the snakes are sometimes hauled in with the catch", the MESA says on its website.

Coroner Greg Cavanagh said in his findings: 'The death of Ryan Donoghue was needless and a tragic waste of a young life.

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