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

Pay-walled Article 2019

The Journal of Experimental Biology

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.

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