Sunday, 19 October 2014


The Blue-ringed octopuses are small animals about 50 mm across from arm tip to arm tip. There are three distinct species that live in rocky shore environments from Australia to Japan. They are carnivores preying on small shrimp and crabs.

Probably the most remarkable aspect of the Blue-ringed octopuses is the potent venom. Delivered by biting, the venom is among the most deadly in the world and has resulted in a number of human deaths. No anti-venin is available at this time.

The venom is a mix of chemicals including tetrodotoxin which is present in the poisonous puffer fish and cone shells. Surprisingly, the toxin is not manufactured by the octopus but by bacteria living in its salivary glands. A bite from a Blue-ringed octopus can result in paralysis of the muscles and possibly a stop to breathing. The heart may also stop through lack of oxygen or paralysis.

First aid usually requires CPR and artificial respiration in hospital. Patients generally recover if respiration can be maintained for the first 24 hours. Because of the paralysis, some victims have been conscious of their situation but unable to call for help. Researchers have estimated that Blue-ringed octopuses carry enough venom to kill about 25 people.

The male Blue-ringed octopus is very enthusiastic where mating is concerned and will wrap his arms around the female to the point that he has to be forced to leave. Male octopuses produce small packets of sperm called spermatophores that are placed inside the female’s mantle (rounded body).

Blue-ringed octopus females lay only one clutch of about fifty eggs just once in their lives. Once the eggs are laid she carries them under her arms in front of her mouth. She does not eat for the six months it takes the eggs to hatch. Once the eggs hatch, the female dies. The young Blue-ringed octopuses will reach maturity and be able to mate by the next year.

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