The ocean is full of amazing and mysterious creatures, but some of them are more dangerous than others. One of the most venomous animals in the world is the blue-ringed octopus, a small but deadly creature that lives in the Pacific and Indian oceans. It has yellow skin with blue rings that flash when it feels threatened. It produces a powerful neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin, which can paralyze and kill humans in minutes.
Tetrodotoxin is one of the most potent toxins known to science. It blocks nerve signals and causes paralysis, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest. “Tetrodotoxin is 1,200 times more toxic than cyanide, and there’s enough in one blue-ringed octopus to kill 26 humans within minutes,” according to WebMD.
The blue-ringed octopus does not make tetrodotoxin itself, but obtains it from bacteria that live in its salivary glands. The octopus injects the toxin into its prey and enemies with its beak or its radula (a toothed tongue). The octopus also passes the toxin to its offspring by injecting it into its eggs, which allows the young octopuses to have their own venom as soon as they hatch.
There is no known antidote for the venom of the blue-ringed octopus, and the sole treatment is to administer artificial respiration until the toxin subsides, a process that can last for hours or even days. Symptoms resulting from a blue-ringed octopus bite may encompass nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, muscle weakness, and respiratory distress. In more severe instances, the individual may experience loss of consciousness and cessation of breathing.
A woman was bitten by a blue-ringed octopus on a popular beach in Australia, and survived thanks to the quick actions of her friends and paramedics. She said she felt a sharp pain in her finger, followed by numbness and tingling in her arm and chest. The blue-ringed octopus is a master of disguise. It can change its color and texture to blend in with its surroundings, making it hard to spot. But when it feels threatened, it flashes its bright blue rings as a warning sign to potential predators.
The blue-ringed octopus is non-aggressive and will only bite if provoked or handled. To prevent being bitten, it is best to leave the octopus undisturbed and appreciate it from a safe distance. This captivating creature deserves admiration and respect, rather than fear and aversion. It serves as a remarkable example of evolution and showcases the ocean’s diverse and beautiful life.
- The Tiny Blue-ringed Octopus Is the Ocean’s Deadliest, HowStuffWorks, October 14, 2021
- Blue-Ringed Octopus Bite: What Causes It, and How It’s Treated, WebMD, July 16, 2023
- Venomous Blue-Ringed Octopus Bites Woman on Popular Beach, Newsweek, October 30, 2023
- Blue-Ringed Octopus Bite Symptoms and Emergency First Aid, Healthline, October 29, 2023