The blue ringed octopus is one of the ocean’s most interesting creatures. At first glance, this tiny octopus looks perfectly innocuous. Its psychedelic coloring and pint-sized packaging make it seem more adorable than alarming.
But don’t let its cuddly exterior fool you, the bite of a blue-ringed octopus is one of the deadliest the world has to offer — and it comes in an ounce-sized, squishy, package.
Starting at (approximately) the size of a pea and only growing to the size of a golf ball, this little guy can often be missed.
Here are a few blue ringed octopus facts that might impress you :
Fact 1 : They’re lethal enough to kill 26 adults
Known as the only octopus that is poisonous to humans, most common blue-ringed octopi carry enough poison that can kill 26 adults, all within a few minutes. They inject their venom by a relatively painless bite that produces two small puncture wounds.
Fact 2 : This is one of the most aggressive species of Octopus in the world
They aren’t as likely to run and hide as they normally would. They also will fight with other Octopus in the area to be able to keep their food and shelter to themselves. With most other species they simply ignore each other but that isn’t the case here.
Fact 3 : They hold two types of venom
The blue-ringed octopus is said to hold two types of venom in its saliva: the ability to kill their prey with one type of toxin, whilst the other is used as defense. Primarily feeding on small crustaceans during the night, the octopus will wait until the venom has spread throughout their prey’s body before consuming.
Fact 4 : They have a short life span
These animals have a short life span of only about 2 years. During the reproductive process, both the male and the female die. The male dies soon after mating.
The female lays the eggs and incubates them under her arms for 6 months. During this time, the female doesn’t feed at all, and once the eggs hatch, she dies of starvation.
By way of comparaison, the Giant Pacific octopus has a lifespans of about 3–5 years in the wild.
Fact 5 : Only a few people are attacked each year
Encounters with this reclusive creature are rare, but people have been bitten after handling accidentally stepping on a blue-ringed octopus. Like most animals, the blue-ringed octopus will only attack if it feels threatened or is stepped on.
Each year several people are bitten, however, their bite is rarely lethal. In most cases, when the victim is first bitten they are unaware of the octopus’ presence in the area.
The bite may be painless, so it’s possible to be unaware of danger until respiratory distress and paralysis occur. Other symptoms include nausea, blindness, and heart failure, but death (if it occurs) usually results from paralysis of the diaphragm. There is no antivenom for a blue-octopus bite, but tetradotoxin is metabolized and excreted within a few hours.
Fact 6 : But death isn’t as common as you may think
It has known to have caused the deaths of at least three people: two in Australia and one in Singapore. Many more people have come close to death as a result of the bite of the blue-ringed octopus. The paralysis that overcomes the victim is only to their voluntary muscles; they remain fully conscious.
Death usually occurs as a result of lack of oxygen. Thus, if mouth to mouth resuscitation is given to a victim of a blue-ringed octopus, they should fully recover.
Fact 7 : They have two types of venoms
Biting with their beak and releasing their neurotoxin via saliva, the blue-ringed octopus will wait until the victim is rendered useless before consuming.
One type of toxin is used to kill the prey and the other is used as a defense. It is even speculated that they don’t need to bite their prey at all, casting the venom near their prey may be all that is needed to kill.
Fact 8 : Generally, rings are not visible
When they are at rest,rings are often not visible (or are very faint). It shows up especially when agitated. At this time, the brown patches darken extensively while the iridescent blue rings appear and pulsate within the maculae.
Fact 9 : The beaks of these octopi are so strong that, they can penetrate through a wetsuit.
Fact 10 : There are at least 10 different species of blue-ringed octopus
They can be found in tidal pools and reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Rarely seen in water deeper than 10ft, this little cephalod (octopus) lives in shallow reef waters, at the bottom of coral rock pools, and under shells and not exclusively on the Great Barrier Reef