Could a Sea Snake or Cone shell venom kill a Blue Whale?

I have heard that these animals are incredibly poisonous; many books attribute sea snake venom as being 50 times deadlier than cobra venom. Cone shells (I think the critters inside are supposed to be snails? :confused: ) also have a sting that can kill a person in a matter of minutes. Box jellyfish is another pretty nasty bag o’poison.

These animals have venom strong enough to kill a person. A person is generally much, much larger than these creatures. There are other very interesting size discrepencies between a venomous animal and human beings (poisonous spiders, for example) which despite the MINISCULE amount of venom delivered, can cause catastrophic reactions in the victim.

I’m wondering how much this would scale up. What if a Blue Whale got stung by these creatures? Now I know blue whales have a thick layer of blubber, and probably pretty thick skin considering how big the animal itself is, but lets just imagine that the poison reaches the whale’s bloodstream.

Could it kill the whale? Considering how much harm an itty bitty spider can do to a person (who is easily, what 200, 300 times bigger?) I can only imagine that something like a cone shell or a sea snake would be pretty darn harmful to a whale assuming it could get the venom in the whale’s bloodstream…

The human subcutaneous LD50’s for the most toxic sea snake (Aipysurus duboisii) (here) is .044mg/kg.

The LD50 is a measure of how much of a particular substance induces death for 50% of a given sample within 24hr.

The average blue whale weighs 99,800 kg.

As such, it would require around 4.39g of Aipysurus venom to kill a blue whale outright. The average venom yield for Aipysurus is .07mg. Thus, it would require the venom of around 62 Dubois’s sea snakes to kill the average blue whale. This is a very crude estimate based on the unreliability of the LD50 data and the envenomation variables, but overall I’d say no, a single sea snake couldn’t kill a blue whale.

You’ve mixed your mg and g units. Based on these figures it would take 62,000 snakes.

I’m no venom expert but based on these figures it would require 40 snakes to kill a 65kg human??

I’m not sure that the figures can be applied in this way.

I think that maybe the yield for that one is a typo. .07mg is by far the smallest amount listed for any snake worlwide, with other sea snakes producing anywhere from 5.0mg to 33.0mg. .07 is a tiny amount! If 1 milliliter of water = 1 milligram, and assuming around 25 drops to 1ml water, and assuming venom is thicker, thus heavier (assuming, I know!) we could say that 1mg of venom would equal around .8ml…which, off the top of my head would hold maybe 20 drops, it would equal less than 1 drop per fang. If it were a typo of one tenth, then it would be .7mg, thus equal to around 9 drops per fang, which seems more plausible compared to the other amounts listed for sea snakes, even if this one is much smaller. This would still take 4 bites to kill a human. If it were typo’d 2 decimal places (which would put it directly in line with the other sea snakes), then one bite could kill 2 humans. Now THAT sounds better, don’t it? At .07mg someone could say “yeah, it is the most venomous snake in the world, but it’ll just cause a rash if it bites you.” But 7mg says “Stay the F! away from it!”


Just FYI: 1 milliliter of water = 1 gram, not one milligram. That’s actually a matter of definition (at at a temperature of 3.98°C and an air pressure of 1013.25 hPa, IIRC)

To the OP - the answer is no. A big resounding No!

Venom aside, the tiny little fangs would never, EVER, penetrate the thick blubbery skin. You could most likely stab a Blue whale with pocket knife and it wouldn’t even flinch.

Sorry Illsa but your value 0.07 mg poison yield was read from the wrong column. That is the mg/kg LD50 value (and from your other site refers to the Horned Sea Snake).
Anyway the most poisonous snake by LD50 subcutaneously is according to your sites the Inland Taipan with an LD50 of 0.025 mg/kg.
For a 99,800 kg Blue Whale that would require 2.49 grams of poison for LD50
whilst the Taipan produces venom uields of 44 - 110 mg and the largest venom yielding snakes (Rattlesnakes) produce up to 850 mg of venom, that is still less than 1/3rd quantity needed for a LD50 on a Blu Whale.

So you woul want one really big and angry Taipan with seriously oversized venom glands to be likely to kill a Blue Whale if LD50 is a good indication.

Does anyone know if LD50 indication works for large mass mamals, is their still a linear relationship between venom effect and body mass?


Leathal Dose 50%

The amount of a substance that would kill 50 percent of the animals it was applied to.

LD50 works on massive animals because it is individual for every species.

The LD50 page used in this thread is for snake venom applied to mice.

But isn’t there an assumption that the LD50 for Mice is approximately the same as LD50 for Humans and is approximately valid for all other mamals.
ie if a rat weighs 2x a mouse, it will take approximately twice the poison to get LD50 for the rat as for the mouse, a Human weighing 300 times as much as a mouse (WAG) would likely require 300x the dose of poison to get a 50% mortality chance.
Is the LD (mg/kg) for different species not approximately the same for most poisons?

I have done no such thing. I corrected the milligrams to grams. 0.044mg=.000044g.

99800kg*.000044g/kg=4.3912g of venom.

It is not a typo. A. dubosii has a very low yield compared to the rest of the sea snakes.

You are slightly mistaken. You have read from the wrong column. Read down to Aipysurus, not Acalyptophis peroni. The venom yield, which is correct for the species, is around .07mg. I chose to use the seas snakes and not Oxyuranus.

Opps, sorry Ilsa I thought you got the 0.07 from the 0.079 in the Acalyptophis peroni subcutanious mg/kg column I didn’t notice the Dubois Sea Snake. I then switched to the most lethal subcutaneous LD50 valued species, which was the Indian Taipan and the largest venom capacity *Eastern diamondback rattlesnake * to make the rest of your point.

Still the report sounds wrong about the Aipysurus duboisi listing 0.044 mg/kg LD50 and 0.07 mg venom capacity would seem to sugest that a bite by such a snake would have only enough poison to kill 0.8 kg of Mice
(0.07/ (0.044 x 2 )[LD50 is 50% kill rate so times 2 to get the kg of Mice Killed] )
Which sounds extremely low, such a bite would be expected to be nonlethal to Humans wouldn’t it?

Its a safe assumption.

But there are always exceptions. Like a mongoose would have much higher LD50s for snake venom than most other animals.

We dont really know how snake venom would effect a blue whale.

I hesitate to say that it is non-lethal, as it is very toxic and dead is dead. This kind of discussion is all rather academic when a sea snake has its fangs in you. Based on the venom yields of other similarly sized snakes, a yield of .07mg isn’t so far off as to be absurd, though I suspect that the true average yield is a bit larger.