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a genus of sea snakes (Hydrophidae). Length, up to 2.7 m. The head is small, and the tail is broad and paddle-shaped. The coloring is greenish gray, usually with dark transverse bands.
There are 22 species, distributed in tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, north to the shores of Japan. Snakes of genus Hydrophis inhabit the coastal zone. They occasionally swim into the mouths of large rivers; one species, H. semperi, lives in Lake Taal on the Philippine Islands. They feed on fish, predominantly eels, and more rarely on crustaceans. All species are ovoviviparous. The young (no more than three) are born in the water. Hydrophis snakes are extremely poisonous; there have been cases of human deaths as a result of their bite. The poison is similar in its action to the poison of asps. H. nigrocinctus, which is found in the Bay of Bengal, presents the most dangerous threat to man.