Blue Ringed Octopus Venom: How Dangerous Are They Really? | Kidadl


Blue Ringed Octopus Venom: How Dangerous Are They Really?

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Blue-ringed octopuses (Hapalochlaena lunulata) are little marine predators found in tide pools and shallow rocky reefs across the western Pacific and Indian Oceans.

These octopuses live in sandy and silty regions in shallow coral reefs, tidepools, and algae clumps at depths of 0-66 ft (0-20.11 m). They hide in rock crevices, empty seashells, and discarded bottles and cans, among other places.

This timid species is one of the sea's deadliest creatures. This little creature, which starts out about the size of a pea and grows to about the size of a golf ball, is easily overlooked.

When a southern blue-ringed octopus is threatened or agitated, its rings become especially brilliant. These octopuses are known for possessing incredibly lethal toxins that can kill a human, in addition to their vivid blue rings.

These species are stretched from Northern Australia to Japan, including Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Indonesia, as well as Sri Lanka in the west.

The blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) is one of several species of tiny octopuses, measuring no more than 2.5 in (6.3 cm) length with arms that measure about 4 in (10.1 cm) length. If their arms are included they reach a length of 8-10 in (20.3-25.4 cm). They're mostly yellow or sand-colored, but as they're poised to strike, vivid blue rings develop on their bodies.

The beautiful bright blue rings make the octopus look very attractive. However, they are one of the world's most venomous octopus species. The venom is claimed to be capable of killing 26 adults in just a few minutes. Antivenin is not available for treatment. This venomous species thankfully is nonaggressive and generally does not harm humans. When a blue-ringed octopus is stepped on or picked up, it usually injures the person. Each ring's core is usually a dark brown tone. Each ring has a dark blurring edge that contains some of the chromatophores responsible for color changes in stressed animals. The weak blue rings turn a bright blue that often appears to shine at this point. Through the eyes, a thin blue line runs. The body is frequently coated in papillae, giving it a rough appearance.

Tetrodotoxin is found in the venom of the bright blue-ringed octopuses which induces pain and neurotoxic consequences by blocking signal transmission by nerve cells via sodium channel inhibition.

Can octopus venom kill humans?

Octopus venom would surely kill humans because of the tetrodotoxin present in it.

Blue-ringed octopuses have a beak-like other octopuses, and their venom is released by their salivary glands. A dose of venom can paralyze human muscles that keep you breathing, in the worst-case scenario, resulting in death within 30 minutes.

The bite is minor, resulting in little to no discoloration of the skin (bite area) and a single drop of blood. Despite the small size of the bite, the victim will feel the effects within 5-10 minutes. When symptoms persist and intensify, the patient becomes unconscious, with the danger of death.

They don't make the toxin on their own. They collect bacteria from the ocean and store them in their salivary glands. Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a toxin secreted by bacteria. It then uses its beak to cut a hole in its prey's shell and spits the saliva inside. While the venom in the saliva paralyzes the victim, the blue-ringed octopus feeds on it.

The tetrodotoxin envenomation of blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) species can leave sufferers completely aware of their surroundings but unable to move. They have no way of signaling for help or indicating distress due to their paralysis. In a similar way as curare or pancuronium bromide, the person remains cognizant and alert. Sensorimotor polyneuropathy is caused by tetrodotoxin poisoning, and it can affect the bulbar and respiratory muscles. Within minutes to hours of ingestion, aural and perioral paresthesias, as well as sensory loss, emerge. Soon after, limb weakness occurs. Hyperhidrosis, excessive salivation, hypotension, bradycardia, and temperature dysregulation are all prominent symptoms of autonomic neuropathy.

As the tetrodotoxin is removed by the body, this impact is transient and will fade with time.

The inoculation of a potent neurotoxin by the blue-ringed octopuses (Hapalochlaena lunulata) produces muscle paralysis by blocking sodium channels in axons.

If not treated, the venom can cause nausea, respiratory arrest, heart failure, severe and possibly total paralysis, blindness, and death within minutes. Suffocation is the most common cause of death related to diaphragm paralysis.

How To Avoid A Blue-Ringed Octopus Attack

If you're careful, you needn't be afraid of being stung by a blue-ringed octopus.

With a tiny body, blue-ringed octopuses can be rather adorable, especially when they begin to display their lovely iridescent blue markings. However, be aware that if they feel threatened, they may inject you with venom.

Marine creatures like the blue-ringed octopus bite only when it feels threatened. Try not to encroach on this animal's natural habitat. These species have the ability to move in and out of very small spaces, so avoid touching any object where they might possibly be hiding.

The octopuses with blue rings are not hostile. They flatten their bodies in an attempt to avoid confrontation. Only if you step on them or irritate them will you get attacked. Back away and leave the animal alone if you spot one. Avoid placing your hands into cracks if you can't see what's inside if you're in an area where they commonly reside.

Blue ringed octopus sitting on an orange sponge.

What happens if you get bitten by a blue-ringed octopus?

If a venomous blue-ringed octopus bites you, you may develop a variety of symptoms. Even if you don't feel the bite, it's critical to get medical treatment as soon as possible if you suspect it happened otherwise it can be fatal.

The amount of toxin secreted in your body, as well as your age and overall health, may affect your symptoms.

The prognosis of the bite is determined by how quickly you seek medical help.

Although not all bites cause serious symptoms, your body should be monitored by a healthcare expert for several hours after the bite. They will be able to manage potentially serious symptoms that may appear hours after the animal interaction.

Tetrodotoxin is a poison generated by marine bacteria that can be found in pufferfish, California newts, Atelopus frogs, blue-ringed octopus, and some starfish, parrotfish, angelfish, gastropod mollusks, and xanthid crabs. Gastronomic distress usually follows an initial feeling of lightness or floating. Increased stiffness with loss of limb and brainstem reflexes, as well as human respiratory compromise, follow these symptoms.

Why is there no antivenom for blue-ringed octopuses?

To date, there is no antivenom available right now. Those who have been bitten require immediate medical attention and may require artificial respiration until the venom's effects wear off.

Once the toxin has paralyzed the victim's respiratory muscles, which frequently happens within minutes of being bitten, the first aid therapy is pressure on the wound and artificial respiration. Because the venom primarily kills by paralysis, victims can often be saved if artificial respiration is started and maintained before severe cyanosis and hypotension becomes severe. If the patient is provided breathing assistance until medical care arrives, their chances of survival improve.

The venom can cause breathing issues or even death. A medical expert will start resuscitation measures in this situation. Supplemental oxygen, intravenous (IV) fluids, and intubation are among them.

You should also take care of the wound. Cleaning the bite area with freshwater rather than saltwater is required. After cleaning the wound, you should use the pressure immobilization technique. This entails placing an elastic bandage wrap (ACE bandage) over the wound site and then tightly wrapping it around the rest of the body portion. Splint the wrapped region with something stable to finish the therapy.

Contact emergency assistance right away. Maintain as much stillness as possible for the person who has been bitten until aid arrives. Allow them to lie down if at all feasible. Apply a wide elastic bandage to the region that has been bitten. Wrap the entire limb in bandages. Wrap it over your ankle as if it were sprained. Place the limb in a stiff splint. If necessary, you can use a branch, a piece of wood, or rolled-up paper.

Did You Know...

The blue-ringed octopus' main neurotoxic is a chemical first called maculotoxin but later discovered to be identical to tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin also present in pufferfish and some poison dart frogs. Within minutes of exposure, tetrodotoxin inhibits sodium channels, resulting in motor paralysis and breathing problem. The octopus' own sodium channels have evolved to be tetrodotoxin-resistant. Tetrodotoxin is produced by microorganisms in the octopus' salivary glands.

As it evolved, its ink sac contracted and contracted and it lost some of its capacity to defend. Although today's juveniles can still ink, the ink sac shrinks dramatically as the animal matures.

The southern blue-ringed octopus is only found on Australia's southern coast, where its food is small crustaceans like shrimp and crabs. It may immobilize its prey with its venom. This can be done in two ways: Either by biting the prey or by releasing a cloud of venom into the water which enters the prey.

The blue-ringed octopuses are not particularly hostile. They would rarely harm humans intentionally or without a major cause. They live in a variety of places, including rock crevices, shells, and even discarded bottles and cans. They only come out to search for prey or find a partner. Mostly they are predators of a fish or some small marine animal.

When it's stressed, it turns brilliant yellow and flashes its 50-60 blue rings in a signal that's usually seen as a clear warning signal. It's a great example of an aposematic warning display, which is a method employed by a variety of species to warn predators that this isn't a snack they want.

The bite of a blue-ringed octopus is relatively unusual, yet it is extremely hazardous. To reduce the chance of being bitten, avoid disturbing the creatures in their natural habitat. If a blue-ringed octopus bites you, you should seek medical treatment right away. Quick action could save you from being poisoned.

Although nothing is known about how long these blue-ringed octopuses live, mostly they aren't known to live very long and they are thought to live for around a year or two. The blue-ringed octopuses' population trends are unclear. Although they are not intended for human consumption, some may be captured for the private aquarium trade. They may be vulnerable to changes caused by coastal development or other human activity since they live in relatively shallow waters.

Written By
Megha Sarkar

<p>Megha, currently studying fashion technology at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, brings a unique blend of passion and dedication to the table. Beyond her academic pursuits, Megha engages in dance and photography as her hobbies, both of which fuel her creativity. As an active member of her college's dance society and photography club, she continually hones her artistic abilities while also contributing to her college community.</p>

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