A Sydney man was cooling off at a popular swimming spot on Tuesday when he noticed a curious and venomous visitor appear from the rocks.
Kirk Tysmans, 31, was at Wattamolla in Sydney's Royal National Park with his wife and some friends when he spotted a red-bellied black snake "so close to the beach". He said it was just metres away from revellers basking in the sun.
"We were getting changed from our swimming clothes back to our dry clothes when we spotted the red-bellied black snake. It came out of nowhere from the rocks or the water," Mr Tysmans told Yahoo News Australia.
"There were maybe five people around so not many people saw it, luckily. I've never seen a snake that close to the beach before but I guess Wattamolla is a river/beach and I've seen snakes around rivers before."
Mr Tysmans said his friend Aum was first to spot the venomous reptile before he rushed over to take photos. Aum is from Thailand and is visiting Australia for the time, so the potentially deadly animal had her a little "rattled".
Mr Tysmans said he was about a metre away from the snake which was slithering along the rocks, but despite the close proximity, the Sutherland Shire local wasn't worried.
"I wasn't scared as I know red-bellied black snakes are harmless unless provoked," he explained. "I've had snakes as pets when I was growing up because my dad was a snake rescuer."
While "amazing" to some, others admitted the "scary" find left them spooked after Mr Tysmans posted pictures of the snake on Facebook.
Snakes on beach 'common', expert says
Although highly venomous, Kane Durrant from Wild Conservation said snakes are harmless if left alone, and urged people to do so. And while many Aussies online thought it was strange for one to appear at a beach, it's actually pretty common.
"Snakes are really common in Wattamolla because it's the national park. It’s one of their last natural refuges in Sydney because so much bushland has been cleared for development and infrastructure," he told Yahoo News Australia.
In fact, the Royal National Park has several species of snakes, all of them being venomous. "I’ve spent a lot of time down there looking at those animals," Mr Durrant said. While the area itself is prone to snake sightings, Mr Durrant explained the exact location of the red-bellied black in Mr Tysmans' photo is rather odd, mostly because they often prefer freshwater.
"At Wattamolla there’s a freshwater side and the beach side. It’s not entirely unusual that it would be near the salt water but it’s more common that it'd be near the freshwater side," he said. "Red bellies actually eat fish and frogs and even eels, so you almost always find them near water, but it’s actually perfectly normal that it’ll be there."
Social media reacts to 'massive' snake
Mr Tysmans warned others on Facebook to be careful, particularly since the hot summer weather would attract people to the area. "Watch out snakes are about. I took these photos at Wattamolla today," he wrote on Tuesday along with incredible photos shared with Yahoo News.
Some couldn't believe the snake had travelled so close to the water. "Never seen a snake that close to the ocean before...Wow... great pics mate," one said. "Nowhere is safe!" another wrote.
But it didn't surprise some who said the snake was "gorgeous" and agreed that they are harmless if left alone. While others commented on its size.
Some couldn't get over how "ginormous" and "massive" it was, with many guessing two metres in length. But Mr Durrant said they often look bigger than they are and guessed the one in question was about 1.2 to 1.5 metres.
Meanwhile, the sighting left some swearing of Watamolla for good. "Omg what my nightmares are made of," one person said.
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