Aussie photographer's 'amazing' encounter with deadly animal: 'Best surprise ever'

The 26-year-old was filming in Darwin when he found himself in an unexpected situation.

Getting up close and personal with one of Australia's most deadly creatures might not be everyone's idea of a good time. But 26-year-old Nick Volpe couldn't contain his excitement when he came within centimetres of a "highly venomous" sea snake.

The Dawrin local, who moved from Melbourne five years ago, was looking for mudskippers in the mangroves at the popular East Point Reserve when he encountered the distinctive and striking black-ringed mangrove snake, which is endemic to the northern parts of Australia – and like all sea snakes, can be deadly.

The spine-tingling moment was captured on camera by his partner Lucyna Kania who was filming as another friend watched on. The video shows Volpe, a nature enthusiast, lying with his back in the murky mud when suddenly he jumps up in "shock" at the sight of something moving swiftly toward him.

Photographer Nick Volpe in mud at mangroves in East Point Darwin after seeing black-ringed mangrove snake
Photographer Nick Volpe had a close encounter with a deadly black-ringed mangrove snake in the mangroves at East Point in Darwin. Source: Nick Volpe

"It all happened pretty quickly and it was a bit of a shock, but we were so excited because it was the first one we'd ever seen of that species,” Volpe, who studied environmental science," told Yahoo News Australia, adding that he was "elated".

"That snake is usually found in estuaries or rivers where crocodiles are found, and one you don’t get to often see. So to see one up close and fairly safely, we were pretty happy about that. It's an amazing opportunity to see it, and the best surprise ever."

Explaining how it all unfolded, the wildlife photographer said he first noticed a shrimpgoby, a type of fish that lives in the burrows.

"It jumped out in front of me and I got a bit of a shock – that was my initial reaction," he said. But that's when he noticed the venomous snake slithering right beside his head.

Sea snakes far more deadly than land snakes

In general, sea snakes are 10 times more venomous than land snakes, including eastern browns and the inland taipan, veterinary nurse Belinda Donovan told Yahoo. Venom from sea snakes attacks the nervous system of a victim and can result in convulsions, paralysis and cardiac failure.

But the scream heard in the video shared to Twitter this week was not caused by fear, but pure joy Volpe claimed. So much so that they stuck around and watched it for a little longer.

"We went right up close to it and I got some cool pictures," said the 26-year-old. "We followed it and saw it going down fish burrows.

"It’s a pretty rare opportunity to watch a sea snake hunt in the mangrove. So we made the most of it," he added. "We weren't threatened by it at all. It was such good fun".

black-ringed mangrove snake in the mud at East Point in Darwin.
The black-ringed mangrove snake, like all sea snakes, are highly venomous and can be deadly with just one bite. Source: Nick Volpe

Most 'concerning' animal in Australia

The wildlife enthusiast insists his engagement with such animals is done "as safe as possible" but he "definitely can't recommend" that anyone does the same. And while he admits he isn’t much concerned about the potential dangers of some species living among us, crocodiles are the one animals in Australia that "concern" him.

"Crocodiles are something you don't want to really mess around with. I was fishing once at night and was stalked by one along the river," he explained. "It’s quite a freaky thing knowing that animal wants to eat you. It just kept following us and just waiting for us to fall in, so they're pretty serious".

Love Australia's weird and wonderful environment? Get our new newsletter showcasing the week’s best stories.