AP Photo/Reed Saxon

It’s probably El Niño’s fault.

The yellow bellied sea snake usually lives its entire life in the ocean, but unfortunately, we live in unusual times. The serpent was seen at least twice last week in Oxnard, California—a city just north of Los Angeles County’s famous beachside locale, Malibu.

Rising ocean temperatures and the normal cyclical warming of the Pacific Ocean—known as El Niño—are thought to be driving the snakes to new areas, according to Heal the Bay, a non-profit environmental advocacy group.

Heal the Bay posted this information on its Facebook page.

The group says this species of snake hasn’t been reported in California since 1980 (during another El Niño period). After Heal the Bay posted information about the snake on its Facebook page, others stepped forward to report their own sightings around the area in the comments section of the post.

Pelamis platura, as the creature is scientifically identified, typically inhabits warm waters. Here’s a handy map from the IUCN Red List, showing in orange where the serpent usually lives.

It is unclear if the two reported sightings were of the same snake or different snakes.

The snake from the second sighting was transported to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s office nearby and died soon after, according to the Los Angeles Times.

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

More from Quartz:

Older People Are More Likely to Pay for Apple Music

Russia and Europe Are Working Together to Plan a Permanent Base on the Moon

In Tanzania, You Can Now Get Your Birth Certificate By Mobile Phone

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. an aerial photo of urban traffic at night
    Transportation

    The Surprisingly High-Stakes Fight Over a Traffic-Taming ‘Digital Twin’

    Why are some mobility experts spooked by this plan to develop a data standard that would allow cities to build a real-time traffic control system?

  2. a photo of the First Pasadena State Bank building, designed by Texas modernist architects MacKie and Kamrath. It will be demolished on July 21.
    Design

    The Lonely Death of a South Texas Skyscraper

    The First Pasadena State Bank, a 12-story modernist tower inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, has dominated this small town near Houston since 1962.

  3. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

  4. A NASA rendering of a moon base with lunar rover from 1986.
    Life

    We Were Promised Moon Cities

    It’s been 50 years since Apollo 11 put humans on the surface of the moon. Why didn’t we stay and build a more permanent lunar base? Lots of reasons.

  5. Life

    The Future of the City Is Childless

    America’s urban rebirth is missing something key—actual births.

×