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Rare snake spotted in Caribbean

Wed., July 11, 2012

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A snake that scientists had declared extinct long ago has been found living in a nature reserve on a tiny isle just off the east Caribbean island of St. Lucia, conservationists said Tuesday.

At least 11 St. Lucia Racer snakes were spotted and tagged by a group of international scientists hunting for the snake in the Maria Islands reserve, which is part of St. Lucia and located about a half-mile south of the main island, according to the British-based Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

“In one sense it is a very worrying situation, with such a small population restricted to a single, tiny site,” Matthew Morton, Durrell’s Eastern Caribbean program manager said. “But in another sense, it’s an opportunity. … It means that we still have a chance to save this species.”

The non-venomous brown snake was declared extinct in 1936, but somebody later spotted one on the rocky reserve in 1973 and rare sightings have since been reported. Late last year, Durrell launched a search for the snake on the larger of the two Maria Islands.

Once they captured the snakes, they implanted microchips that will transmit data for at least 10 years, including information about their lifespan and other unknown details.


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