DANGERS ON THE REEF.....Blue Ring Octopus
Blue Ring Octopus
There are two species of blue-ringed octopus:
1. Hapalochlaena lunulata, which is the larger and grows up to
20cm (8 in) across its stretched tentacles.
2. Hapalochlaena maculosa, is small and more common, weighing a
mere 28 grams (1 oz). They are found in the shallow coral and
rock pools of Australia.
While resting, the Blue Ring Octopus is a pale brown to yellow
colour. The blue rings on its body only "light up" as a warning
when the animal feels threatened.
Don't pick one up - by the time you see the electric-blue rings,
it's too late!
It starts life the size of a pea and is fully grown at about the
size of a golf ball.
They have a life span of approx. 2 years.
Carry enough poison to kill 26 adults within minutes.
Southern Western Australia, to southern Qld and northern
The Blue Ring Octopus is not an aggressive animal and when
disturbed it flattens out its body to hide and changes its body
colour to blend into its surroundings.
They are soft-bodied animals, with a sack-like body and eight
arms covered with suckers.
The female lays approximately 50 eggs in late Autumn. She
carries her eggs around under her arms. Once the eggs have
hatched after 3 - 6 months, the female dies. The young octopus
develop rapidly, mature and mate early the following Autumn. The
males then die and the female broods the eggs.
The Blue Ring Octopus hunts during the day. It eats
invertebrates and wounded fish.
With a beak that can penetrate a wet-suit, they are one little
cute creature to definitely look at BUT Don't touch.
The bite might be painless, but this octopus injects a
neuromuscular paralysing venom. The venom contains some
maculotoxin, a poison more violent than any found on land
animals. The nerve conduction is blocked and neuromuscular
paralysis is followed by death. The victim might be saved if
artificial respiration starts before marked cyanosis and
hypotension develops. The blue-ringed octopus is the size of a
golf ball but its poison is powerful enough to kill an adult
human in minutes. There's no known antidote. The only treatment
is hours of heart massage and artificial respiration until the
poison has worked its way out of your system.
The venom contains tetrodotoxin, which blocks sodium channels
and causes motor paralysis and occasionally respiratory failure.
Though with fixed dilated pupils, the senses of the patients are
often intact. The victims are aware but unable to respond.
Although the painless bite can kill an adult, injuries have only
occurred when an octopus has been picked out of its pool and
provoked or stepped on.
Onset of nausea.
Hazy Vision. ( Within seconds you are blind.)
Loss of sense of touch, speech and the ability to swallow.
Within 3 minutes, paralysis sets in and your body goes into
The poison is not injected but is contained in the octopus's
saliva, which comes from two glands each as big as its brain.
Poison from the one is used on its main prey, crabs, and is
relatively harmless to humans. Poison from the other gland
serves as defense against predators. The blue-ringed octopus
either secretes the poison in the vicinity of its prey, waits
until it is immobile and then devours it, or it jumps out and
envelops the prey in its 8 tentacles and bites it.
First aid for blue-ringed octopus bites
Pressure-immobilization is a recommended first aid. Prolonged
artificial respiration may also be required. May require
supportive treatment including mechanical ventilation until the
effects of the toxin disappear. There is no antivenin available
Mouth to mouth resuscitation can keep the victim alive and the
poison gradually wears off after 24 hrs, apparently leaving no