Spindrift June 29, 2023


Our last meeting convened at noon in the Dining Room of the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club. Nineteen were seated for lunch, including Dave Black, our speaker for the day. Dave is an active member and officer of the South Orange County Exchange Club, and he has served as recent President of the CA/NV District Exchange. President. Ken DuFour opened the meeting by thanking our Creator for blessing us with sun so early in the day, which we have been lacking during June Gloom. Ken asked for blessings for us and our families and friends, and expressed condolences for the families of five crew members who died in the tragic Titanic rescue operation off the coast of Newfoundland. Gail Demmers then led us in the flag salute.


Next week’s meeting is Spouses Day, so plan on bringing your spouse, significant other, or friend to our luncheon next Thursday.


Dave Black has developed some degree of expertise in the distribution, habitat, and behavior of poisonous and non-poisonous snakes in Southern California. Dave is and has been an instructor with the Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Group for over 20 years, and he detailed his observations and experienc-
es with these reptiles.

He began with important words of advice: if you are bitten by a snake in an urban setting or are with someone who has been bitten, call 911; do not attempt to treat the bite yourself. Getting treatment from first responders or emergency medical care is generally the best way to handle snakebites.

There are about 30 species of rattlesnake in the U.S. (6 of which are found in California. Other native venomous species in the U.S. include coral snakes, cottonmouth (water) moccasins and copperheads. There is at least one species of venomous snake that can be found in every state except Alaska and Hawaii.

Fatalities from snakebites are rare in the U.S. (7-12 annually), but the Western and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes are responsible for most of them. Although copperheads account for most bites, their venom is less toxic, and their bites are seldom fatal. Cottonmouth moccasins are water snakes, and they inhabit the Southeastern states, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

Other rattlesnake species in this part of the country include the Southern Pacific, the Sidewinder, and the Red Rattlesnake. California King Snakes, Garter Snakes, and Ring-Necked Snakes are harmless snakes which benefit the environment; they feed on other critters, including lizards, insects, rodents, and even other snakes.

The main characteristics which distinguish rattlesnakes from non-venomous species include the triangular head which accommodates the prominent salivary glands that produce and store the venom, fangs, eyes with elliptical pupils, and a rattle at the end of the tail. Important points: Snakes avoid interaction with humans, and will only attack in their own defense….. The rattle is a way of warning humans and animals of its presence….. Rattlesnakes generally coil and can strike at distances of up to half their body length….. Rattlesnakes don’t always rattle prior to striking…..A rattlesnake bite does not always result in an injection of venom; if a person develops rapid onset of swelling and pain, envenomation has occurred.

If you are in the woods, be aware of your surroundings; be aware that snakes may be camouflaged in woodpiles, debris, in and around rocks, etc. Snakes need water, and they will be found near bodies of water. If you see a snake, avoid it. If you or someone near you has been bitten, call 911, immobilize the affected limb, keep the victim warm, and be prepared to administer CPR if it becomes necessary. If someone in your neighborhood has been bitten, what not to do? Do NOT suck out the venom, do NOT cut open the area, do NOT apply an ice pack, do NOT give oral fluids, and do NOT apply a tourniquet. These were traditional remedies from training and first aid manuals which are no longer recommended. What to do? Remove all restrictive jewelry, e.g., watches, rings, or bracelets from the affected limb, as well as any restrictive clothing, and attempt to restrict movements, e.g., walking, which could increase the rate of absorption of the venom in the body.

If it is possible to transport the victim to a hospital or medical facility emergency department, contact the hospital in advance, have available any information with regards to the victim’s medical history and allergic history, and monitor the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing pattern if possible.

In conclusion, snakes are indigenous to Southern California. It’s best to be aware of them, avoid them, and be prepared to take action when necessary. ED. NOTE: Stay safe!!

Posted in
Mike Marquardt

Mike Marquardt