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Blue-Ringed Octopus | © Angell Williams / Flickr
Blue-Ringed Octopus | © Angell Williams / Flickr
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Cute But Deadly: 7 Facts About The Blue-Ringed Octopus

Picture of Ellie Griffiths
Updated: 9 February 2017
A blue-ringed octopus doesn’t seem like it could be deadly, right? Wrong. This shy octopus is among one of the deadliest animals that can be found in the sea. 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. With a lifespan of approximately two years, we are here to calm your nerves and help you with any future encounter.

They are easily identifiable by their glowing blue rings

These creatures are generally found living in tidal regions from Australia to Japan, in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, amongst the coral reefs and tide pools. Possessing a large head and two big eyes, their glowing blue rings are a sign of feeling threatened and ready to attack. Should you spot one, do not provoke it, and stay clear of its path.

Blue-Ringed Octopus | © Angell Williams / Flickr
Blue-Ringed Octopus | © Angell Williams / Flickr

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.

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.

Blue-Ringed Octopus | © Eugene Lim / Flickr
Blue-Ringed Octopus | © Eugene Lim / Flickr

Several people are attacked every year

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.

Victims begin to feel the effects in only a few minutes

Usually when a person is bitten they may not know about it; the bite is slight and will produce little to no discolouration of the skin (bite area), and no more than a tiny drop of blood. Although the bite is small, the victim will begin to feel the effects within 5 to 10 minutes: paresthesias, numbness, progressive muscular weakness, and difficulty in swallowing and breathing. Sometimes the victim further experiences nausea, visual disturbances, vomiting and difficulty speaking. When symptoms continue and worsen, unconsciousness occurs, with possibility of death following.

Blue-Ringed Octopus | © Angell Williams / Flickr
Blue-Ringed Octopus | © Angell Williams / Flickr

You need to survive the first 24 hours

There is currently no antidote available for this venom, however, after about 15 hours the victim’s muscles will start working again. Usually those who survive the first 24 hours will make a complete recovery.

But death isn’t as common as you think

Although this is among the deadliest sea creature, only three deaths caused by the blue-ringed octopus have ever been reported – two in Australia and one in Singapore.

Blue-ringed Octopus | © Eugene Lim / Flickr
Blue-Ringed Octopus | © Eugene Lim / Flickr