If you are as interested in marine life as much as I am, then you will be very excited to learn about one creature that is quite small (about the size of a golf ball and weighs around an ounce) but that makes little difference. This amazing marine animal makes its home in the water of the Indo- pacific ocean, I am talking about the Blue Ringed Octopus; a small titian of the coral reef.
I hope you’re thinking: exactly what is a blue ringed octopus?Because if you are, then you came to the right place. What makes this creature so feared by both human and animal alike is what it carries: the most powerful venom in all the seas.
It’s prey face certain death in its embrace; humans aren’t safe either; if one happens to accidentally come into contact with this miniscule beast the day can quickly become a nightmare.
If you happen to be unfortunate enough to bump into a blue-ringed octopus, your best bet is to get medical help immediately; the toxin will start to work instantly with devastating effects.
Before your life changes forever, you’ll get a warning; you’ll only see it, however, if you’re paying close attention. Its blue rings will be your signal to back away and save yourself. Despite the great threat that this creature poses, the encounters resulting in grave conditions or even death have been relatively few.
Home Sweet Home
If you have ever been or some day will be in the Indo-Pacific region of the world, then you have been or will be in the vicinity of some of the coral reefs this blue ringed octopus loves to call home. Like all octopuses (Octopoda) the blue ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena) likes to hide by squeezing into crevices found in corals, rocks and eves sea shells.
They can be found in the shallow oceans and tidal pools of the Indo-pacific region, specifically in the waters of Japan and Australia (Wikipedia). Although, they are most abundant off the coast of the land down under.
If you happen to stumble on to this docile creature or you decide to let curiosity get the best of you, the day can suddenly turn sour, to say the least. The creature will bite you without you feeling a thing. Things take a drastic turn once this animal’s saliva enters your blood stream.
Deadly Things Come In Small Packages
By simply by looking at the blue-ringed octopus you will not be alarmed. In fact, you may be charmed by its beautiful blue and black rings against a bright yellow background. The blue rings are a way of letting you know that it’s startled and it’s not happy about it. At this point the smart thing to do is back away and let it be. If you don’t, it will bite you and things will start to take a drastic turn once the bacteria filled saliva enters the wound. These produce the deadliest toxin in all the oceans called tetrodoxin. The puffer fish is also loaded with this powerful chemical.
So, what is a blue ringed octopus capable of? one carries enough venom to kill 26 people in minutes. It goes without saying; if you are unfortunate enough to become its latest victim, seek medical attention immediately. Otherwise, a tragedy can turn fatal, fast.
Once tetrodoxin enters the blood there’s no turning back. The venom quickly begins to interfere with the nerve cells’ signals; which means the unfortunate victim will rapidly become numb and go into a state of paralysis soon thereafter. Quickly the breathing slows down to the point where CPR or an artificial respirator is necessary to stay alive.
The heart being a muscle after all, begins to react to the venom; soon the person will be in need of vital chest compressions. Since an antidote does not yet exist, the individual will remain paralyzed for 24 hours before the toxin is eliminated from the body.
This terrible ordeal can be avoided if one understands what this beautiful creature is trying to tell us.
Heed The Warning
Most if not all animals that are a serious threat are normally kind enough to give us a warning. This is mainly a visual or auditory alarm; which means they don’t really want to hurt us, but they have to protect themselves. The blue-ringed octopus is no different.
If it feels threatened, it immediately changes color, turning bright yellow; here it lives up to its name by flashing its 50 to 60 rings a bright iridescent blue. This is the unmistakable sign that you must not come any closer, and go in the opposite direction instead. This special octopus uses this sign to warn predators; most rather steer clear.
Researchers in Australia were surprised to discover one animal to be immune to this lethal venom: the cuttlefish. For this reason the resourceful blue ringed octopus came up a with clever solution; it changed its feeding time from night (the time when cuttlefish are most active) to day. This awesome animal is not only extremely deadly, but, like all octopuses, highly intelligent.
You Have Been Warned
As many who call the Indo-Pacific home can tell you, there lives a small but much feared creature in the not so deep oceans and tidal pools. The blue-ringed octopus carries the most powerful venom in world’s oceans. This tiny terror is capable of killing 26 people within minutes.
Once its prey find themselves in its embrace, it is all over.
If you have the misfortune to come into contact with this creature, you will be bitten and won’t feel a thing. You will notice a small wound on the point of contact. At this time you have only minutes before your body becomes paralyzed. As your breathing slows you will be in need of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation immediately; followed by chest compressions as the heart begins to go numb. I don’t have to tell you that is a dire situation.
If you are cautious by nature, you might avoid this fate; this docile creature will do its best to warn you by displaying its bright iridescent blue rings. This will be the unmistakable sign for you to back way and don’t look back.
It’s a good idea not to let it get to this point in the first place, fortunately it doesn’t have to. If you are ever in one of these beaches or tide pools, you will notice there are warning signs advising you of the presence of these dangerous animals. Then it will be up to you. If you decide not to heed the warning, then you will do so at your own peril.
Were you aware of this terrifying and wonderful creature? Have you seen one before? Have you ever been stung or bitten by an animal?
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