ringed octopus is a small very dangerous creature.
It is small enough to
fit in an empty
on the ocean bottom where it likes to hide.
It is rather shy
bother you unless you pick it up or step on it.
But if it does bother, it
poison to kill 26 people in one go.
It is found in all the waters around Australia, including Cape York.
A good reason to wear rubber boots when out on
the reef, and to be careful with what to pick
playing on tidal rock
Children are at a higher risk because of their small body size.
By Angell Williams via Flickr.com The
its blue rings,
brown unless the animal is just about to poison someone.
Where Is It Found?
animal comes in two different
species, which together cover all the coasts of Australia.
Down south there is
Lesser, or Southern
Blue Ringed Octopus (Hapalochlaena
maculosa), and up north we have the
tropical Greater Blue
Ringed Octopus (Hapalochlaena
the southern species is only found in Australian waters, the northern
species is found along the coasts of northern Australia as well as
Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Indonesia and Philippines.
The animal is not often
it likes to hide on the sea bottom - in tidal rock pools
coral reefs. They hide in empty sea shells, clumps of algae and rock
By CirclesOfLight via Flickr.com
What Does It Look Like?
Greater blue ringed octopus is about the size
of a golf ball.
octopuses, it has eight
Its body colour is beige,
much the same
as the sand that surrounds it.
On the sandy-coloured background, it has darker, brownish rings on
Those only go blue
animal is agitated.
rings are blue, the animal is well comouflaged and not always easy to
see on the ocean bottom.
Weilenmann via Flickr.com
Their biggest favourite is crabs,
but they also eat shrimp and other crustaceans, as well as small reef
They hunt during the day,
they are ambush predators,
which means that they sit in the same place and wait for the prey to
come to them, rather than the other way around.
only emerge from their hiding spots to hunt or mate.
They are not aggressive and
only bite if
threatened or agitated.
This most often happens when they are picked
up or accidentally stepped
Watch what your kids are picking up when playing in rock pools.
It is not only cone
shells that can be
dangerous to pick up. In some other shells, there may be a blue ringed
Saspotato via Flickr.com
Bite and Venom
Its bite is very small
and can be
painless. Some people don't even notice it before the
Its venom is tetrodotoxin - a kind of powerful neurotoxin,
produced in the animal's salivary glands.
Tetrodotoxin causes nausea, numbness,
severe or even total paralysis.
The victim will notice breathing
difficulties which can be followed by respiratory arrest.
That will lead to cardiac
due to lacking oxygen in the brain, and can happen within minutes if
Phil Camill via Flickr.com
paralysed victim cannot
breathe, move or respond, but remains conscious
and can hear.
ambulance, and while waiting,
* apply pressure
in a similar way to snake bite. Every smart Australian has one in their
first hand kit in their vehicle (particularly on a Cape York trip!).
* breathing difficulties that start within
minutes have to be helped by rescue
breathing until the ambulance arrives.
Once the ambulance arrives the victim needs to be hospitalised for artificial respiration.
is no antivenin for treatment of the poison of blue ringed
body will actually, finally, get rid of this poison, but during the first 24 hours (at
least) it needs respiratory
Once the poison is metabolised and the paralysis subsides the victim
will regain the ability to breathe.
By Saspotato via Flickr.com
been two reported
in Australia from this poisonous creature.
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