This video taken by a diving instructor in Thailand showcases the sea snake, known as a banded sea krait, in its element: swallowing a moray eel as big as it is.
The instructor saw the scene unfolding and began capturing the video, which begins with the sea snake mid-meal, sliding the eel down its throat bit by bit. The eel’s muscles spasm at one point, as though it is trying to fight—it doesn’t seem to enjoy being ingested. But the snake had eaten a good portion of the eel already, so resistance was futile.
The banded sea krait’s habitat includes shallow, tropical waters of coral reefs and mangrove swamps in the eastern Indian and western Pacific oceans. They prey on eels, which they can find when they slide through a reef’s crevices. Female sea snakes tend to go for bigger eels in deeper waters, because female sea snakes are bigger than their male counterparts. Males are more likely to attack smaller prey in shallow waters.
At one point in the video, the snake’s muscles contract in a curved shape in order to finish consuming the last stretch of the eel’s body. Given the size of the eel at the beginning of the video, it is clear that a good portion of the snake’s body is full by the time it finishes its meal.
The banded sea krait’s venom is very poisonous—it is ten times more toxic than a rattlesnake’s venom. When they hunt, they paralyze their prey with their venom and then swallow prey whole. But this particular kind of sea snake is so shy that human bites are rare, since it only attacks in self-defense.
It is the only kind of sea snake that is amphibious, and it can spend up to 10 days on land, where it may digest its food, mate, or lay eggs. Given the size of the eel in the video, that sea snake’s next stop may have been a comfortable spot on land.