Ever since I first saw sea snakes in Raja Ampat, I have wanted to snorkel with them again. One of the reasons I selected the Phillipines for this snorkel trip is because there's supposed to be a good chance to see them there. We saw two of them in the rocks at Nalusuan, our first stop, but just from our room, not in the water. We didn't see any at Balicasag. We were at the end of our snorkel at the marine sanctuary at Siquijor island when I spotted a large banded sea snake. It was quite large, and incredibly beautiful.
I tried to get shots that had both the head and the tail in them, but it was a challenge! I swam with this snake for about 10 or 15 minutes, and it surfaced three times for air. I of course was careful to give it space, but there was a bit of a scary moment once when it came up for air, veered suddenly, and I thought it might actually hit me (steering is hard when snorkeling and trying to move fast to get out of the way) but I stayed calm and backpedaled and it came up in front of me. I have to admit I didn't get great shots as it came up for air because it happens so quickly, and I am focused on giving the snake proper space vs. getting a good photo.
I would have stayed with this snake longer (they are mesmerizing when swimming!) but better to make sure not to risk stressing the animal. Yes, these snakes are venomous and that scared me before Indonesia, but I researched it and spoke to people who are familiar with them and apparently they are docile and you have to really annoy them to get bitten. Plus, they have very small mouths so it is hard to get a lot of venom (not that I'd want to get any, since it's quite toxic). I gained confidence in swimming with them and I am just very careful not to get in their way or annoy or harass them. I love swimming with snakes and had many chances this trip, but I already look forward to next time.