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What is a blue ringed octopus? – Here Size Doesn’t Matter

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.

 

Scary Situation

 

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?

Please leave your comments below,

 

 

Thank you for stopping by,

 

 

Jose

JOSE CRUZ

8 Comments

  1. Wow, that sounds like some serious venom. Look out for the blue rings! I have never been to Australia but I will keep this in mind when I go there. Won’t want to get stung by this blue ringed octopus. (Or any of my friends to get stung!)

    It seems like it doesn’t want to hurt anyone. I would generally assume that any octopus would be good natured. They are very smart. I hope I would see the heads up, apologize for spooking them, and then go another way. 

    I’ve definitely had bee stings and jelly fish stings. But I was not aware of this blue rings octopus. Well, now I know. Thanks! Cool website and I like marine life too. 

    • All right Edward! That makes two of us–I’ve always had a fascination for all thing marine–I feel drawn. 

      Ain’t this octopus beautiful?! I think is gorgeous, but let my eyes enjoy it from a distance. A bite from it, which I won’t even feel, can spell death. You see, this octopus cant’t jet away from predators like his fellow octopuses, hence the potent poison. 

      I am glad you found my post interesting–thanks for your post, 

      Jose
       

  2. Wow, this is such an amazing animal! I recently saw a video about a tourist who got close to one without realizing what it was (or how dangerous it could be). Fortunately, the person and the animal had a short encounter and everyone lived to tell the tale, but it’s a great reminder to leave nature be. It is quite a beautiful animal, but one that should be admired and respected from a safe distance!

    • Hello Aly, Yes indeed, this animal is small in size but packs a wallop. Sure is beautiful though, but like you said– from a distance. Like much of nature, it not all, they are for our eyes only. 

      If someone is careless it can spell death. Unlike other octopuses they can’t use a jet to escape, hence the potent poison. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Thanks much for your comment. 

      Jose

  3. Thanks for sharing this valuable information, Jose. I will be travelling to Bali, Indonesia end of the year and this really comes in handy and right on time. I wonder if their appearance is seasonal or they are there all year long and do they come near to the beach. I guess, regardless, we still have to be vigilant at all times when out in the ocean or beach. Now, I better share this with my kids.

    Thanks again.

    • Hello Sharon, I am sure the blue-ringed octopus is there all year since these are tropical and sub-tropical regions. The best thing to do is have you and your kids educate yourselves as much as possible. Since they are part of the coral reef, they may be found in tidal pools when the tide is low. 

      I hope you and your kids have a wonderful time,

      Jose

  4. Wow! That is amazing Jose. I had never heard or seen an octopus like this before. If someone should ever ask me, what is a blue ringed octopus, I now have the answer and a warning should they want to know.

    I can see how one who is scuba diving and is an inquisitive person could get themselves in trouble if they didn’t know what warning signs to look for. It is interesting looking and even more so when it brightens up during its warning state.

    The living creatures of the oceans are more amazing than people realize, and some like the blue ringed octopus, deadly. They say that man has explored space far more than the oceans of the world.

    Thank you for this post Jose. I found it to be quite informative and I love learning new things, especially when it could save someones life when coming in contact with something that looks interesting yet staying clear is highly advised.

    • Hey Robert, what makes this amazing creature even more dangerous is that you won’t even know you have been bitten. The best thing to do is educated yourself as much as you can and know where they are mainly found, which is in the Indo-pacific regions of the world.

      It’s a beautiful creature without a doubt, but that beauty is for the eyes only. 

      I appreciate your comment, take good care!

      Jose

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