PAPUA NEW GUINEA 2006

Loloata and Lion Islands
Central Province
14 October 2006


Map showing islands of Bootless Bay, National Capital District.
click to enlarge map

In 1990 I visited Lion Island, formerly known as Manunouha Island, off the coast south of Port Moresby, and captured a Yellow-lipped sea krait (Laticauda colubrina), a wide spread western Pacific species. Since that time a second, related, species has been described from the same area, the Papuan sea krait (L.guineai) a species seemingly endemic to the coast of Central and southern Milne Bay Provinces. Keen to find and photograph a specimen I planned a return to Lion Island, this time in the company of Australian medic Antony Chenhall.

Yellow-lipped sea krait, Laticauda colubrina, from Lion Island in 1990.

 

Antony Chenhall at Dave's flat
with Tawari
Saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus porosus
Distribution map of
Yellow-lipped sea krait, Laticauda colubrina,
and
Papuan sea krait, L.guineai, in PNG
(excluding North Solomons Prov.)

The three islands in Bootless Bay are Motapore, Loloata and Lion Islands. The first houses a research station for the University of PNG (UPNG), the second a dive resort and retreat, while the third is small and uninhabited.

Loloata Island
Dive Resort.
Loloata, Motapore & Lion Islands (L-R). Motapore Island,
UPNG research station.

Lion Island from Loloata Island. Lion Island from sealevel.

Loloata Island has a resort at its northwestern corner and a trail along its saddleback centre.

Loloata Island Dive Resort.
Loloata Island crest track.
End of the road. Tupuseleia stilt-village from Loloata Island.

Lion Island is small and uninhabited apart from its wildlife. Sea kraits, when they are present, may be found sheltering under large boulders on the shoreline. Unlike true seasnakes, sea kraits are amphibious and can move into land, to digest meals, mate and lay eggs (seasnakes are viviparous and totally marine).

Motapore Island from Lion Island. Loloata Island from Lion Island.
Landing point, Lion Island. Antony on the beach, Lion Island.
Sea krait habitat on Lion Island.

On the 2006 visit we failed to find any sea kraits on Lion Island although four skink species were recorded: Shore skink (Emoia atrocostata), Eastern bicarinate four-fingered skink (Carlia bicarinata), and Black-cowled four-fingered skink (C.luctuosa), with Yule Island snake-eyed skink (Cryptoblepharus yulensis) on Loloata Island.