Rare yellow-bellied sea snake washes up in Newport Beach

Beachgoers got a shocking surprise when a rare yellow-bellied snake washed up in Newport Beach. (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County )

Beachgoers got a shocking surprise when a rare yellow-bellied snake washed up in Newport Beach Tuesday.

This is only the fifth snake of its kind ever documented in California history and the first to ever show up on the coast outside of an El Nino event.

Past documentation of the yellow-bellied sea snake appearing in the state includes one in 1972 in San Clemente and three between 2015 and 2016 in Ventura, San Diego and Orange counties.

The species is usually found in warmer waters off the coast of Mexico.

The snake is now part of the permanent collection at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles where it will be studied for its implications to sea animal populations and climate change.
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