"A group of snorkeling grandmothers who swim up to 3 kilometers five days a week have uncovered a large population of venomous sea snakes. They were found in a bay in Noumea where scientists once believed they were rare.
Claire Goiran works at the University of New Caledonia and Professor Rick Shine works at Australia's Macquarie University. They were studying a small harmless species known as the turtle-headed sea snake located in the Baie des Citrons. However, they would occasionally encounter the 1.5-meter-long venomous greater sea snake. It is also known as the olive-headed sea snake.
Goiran and Shine believed the greater sea snake was an anomaly in the popular swimming bay. It had only been spotted about six times over 15 years. From 2013, they decided to take a closer look at the greater sea snake. They wanted to better understand its importance to the bay's ecosystem.
"The study zone is in the most touristic bay in Noumea, so I often meet people when I am doing field work on sea snakes," Goiran said. "When I was snorkeling on my own studying sea snakes, I used to meet a friend of mine called Aline that was snorkeling and taking photos on the same reef. In order to help me, she started taking photos of sea snakes and would send them to me by mail.
"I was very happy, so she asked her neighbor and friend Monique to help me, too. Monique asked another friend, and soon there were seven grandmothers helping me." The group named themselves "the fantastic grandmothers." They range in age from 60 to 75."
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