The Blue-ringed octopus is a mollusc related to squid and culltlefish, it is a very small soft bodied creature, there are two species one growing up to 20 cm across its spread tentacles, its body the size of a golf ball and the other approximately 10cm in total. The Blue Found in Australia and Japan it inhabits shallow tropical water, sheltered rock pools, crevices and tidal pools, it has also been known to hide in triton shells, the smaller version is more common in Australia. Ayellow/brown pale colour it changes to a display bright blue rings when it feels threatened. This is a defense mechanism and it is likely to bite at this stage, before turning its rings blue the octopus will flatten itself out and change its colour to blend into its surroundings.. Normally the Blue Ringed Octopus is non aggressive but will bite if provoked or cornered so care when poking around is recommended. The venom of the Blue Ringed Octopus is in its saliva, produced in glands around the same size as its brain. It consists of two components, one for catching prey and is relatively harmless to man the other for defence which can result in death. One octopus contains enough venom to kill approximately 26 adults within minutes. The venom is not injected but is passed to the victim via saliva when bitten with the beak. The beak is used to pass venom into animals sucha s crabs and other molluscs, their primary food source. Most reported bites have been as a result of handling the frightened animals. The beak of the Blue Ringed Octopus can puncture through a wetsuit so remember look dont touch! Although the bite is usually painless, it can result in death if not treated quickly.
Signs and symptoms
- Numbness around the mouth
- Blurred, hazy vision within seconds loss of sight
- Loss of speach and swallow reflex
- Paralyis after approximately 3 minutes
- Cyanosis - blue tinge on outer extremities and face caused by lack of oxygen
- Respiratory failure
- Fixed dilated pupils
- If not treated death may result
NB: the Blue Ringed Octopus venom contains a substance called tetrodotoxin this blocks sodium channels resulting in motor paralysis and sometimes results in respiratory failure and maculotoxin that blocks nerve conduction resulting in neuromuscular paralysis . Although the victims sight is lost their other senses are usually intact but they are unable to respond so it is important to remain calm and reassure your victim.
2. Artificially maintain respiration until help arrives or until the effects of the toxin disappear. Prompt initiation of artifical respiration is the key to survival.
3. Hospitalisation for administration of mechanical ventilation and other supportive measures such as cardiac massage
There is no antivenom available in Australia.
Consult your doctor for treatment with suitable medications
Aw, M. (2000). Tropical reef life: A getting to know you and indentification guide. OceanNEnvironment Ltd: Australia.
Parish, S. (1997). First field guide to Australian marine life: Search and learn. Steve Parish Publishing Pty Ltd: Queensland.
EMedicine online: www.emedicine.com
PLEASE NOTE - DISCLAIMER:
The information provided above is for general purpose use and provided as guidance that is suggestive, not prescriptive, invasive, or medical in nature. You should always consult with or see a medical practitioner for definitive health care information or to receive medical treatment