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The deadly Blue Ringed octopus

Aug 3rd 2017

Korea is not known for deadly sea animals, but its southern coasts are increasingly becoming home to two such creatures ― blue-ringed octopuses and black-banded sea kraits.
Since a blue-ringed octopus was found two months ago in Geoje, a southern coastal city, the city government has set up warning signs in the area.

The octopus is one of the world's most venomous marine animals. It is about the same size as a golf ball but one octopus is known to carry enough venom to kill 26 adults within minutes. Its venom, which contains a neurotoxin among other poisons, can result in paralysis, blindness, respiratory arrest, heart failure and death by suffocation if not properly treated.

Coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, from Japan to Australia, are known to be the octopuses' habitats. But since the octopus was found on Jeju Island in 2012 ― the first case in Korea ― it has so far been found in its four southern cities ― Yeongdeok, Ulsan, Uljin and Geoje.

According to a report released in June, a research team at Kangwon National University has also found 12 black-banded sea kraits around the south coast and Jeju Island between April 2015 and October 2016 ― also a first in Korea.

The snake's venom is believed to be 10 times stronger than that of a cobra, making it highly dangerous if provoked, though it rarely attacks humans first.

Some experts, including Park Dae-sik, a university professor who led the research, believes rising sea temperatures near the Korean Peninsula is one of the key, if not only, reasons why many such sea creatures have been found in the country in recent years.

So far, there has been one reported case in which a person was bitten by either of the two. In 2015, a man was hospitalized after a blue-ringed octopus bit his hand, but he survived after prompt treatment.

July 25, 2017

There have been no further reports of any activity regarding the blue ringed octopus in this area

July 9th 2017

Octopus kills female in Vietnam

The bite could have come from a blue-ringed octopus, the same species featured in the famous James Bond film 'Octopussy'.

A woman in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue died last Friday after being bitten by an octopus, provincial authorities said on Sunday.

Van Thi Ty, 32, was fishing with her husband in the area off Phu Loc District when the octopus bit her on the leg, causing her to black out.

Ty’s husband rushed her to hospital, but doctors announced her dead on arrival.

Local fishermen have killed the octopus and handed it over to authorities for tests.

In Vietnam, it is very rare for humans to die from an octopus bite, biologist Ngo Dac Chung told Thanh Nien newspaper.

He said the deadly bite could have come from a blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata). The venom of this species, which has a distinctive blue color when it's alive, can paralyze the human nervous system, leading to heart failure.

June 15th 2017

A Reminder that they are only blue if disturbed

May 22nd 2017

ENCOUNTER BAY – The discovery of a blue-ringed octopus at Encounter Bay should serve as a reminder that the species should never be directly handled.

Encounter Bay’s Avalon Rose discovered the octopus recently, while walking along the shoreline.

“We couldn't believe our eyes,” Ms Rose said. 

“It was already blue so was obviously agitated when we found it on the shoreline. I've lived in Encounter Bay for nine years and walk my dogs morning and night and I've never seen one.”

Dr Mandy Reid, of the Australian Museum Research Institute, said the octopus was a hapalochlaena maculosa, which are very common in southern parts of Australia.

“Members of this genus have powerful neurotoxins including tetrodotoxin,” Dr Reid said. 

“Bites have resulted in human fatalities so they should never be directly handled.”

Dr Reid said the blue-ringed octopus was common to coastal areas, but not often seen.

“They’re quite secretive and even though they’re very common, you don’t see them because they hide in crevices and rock pools. 

“They are most active at night.”

The blue-ringed octopus secretes poison from glands behind its beak, with which it bites its prey. 

It is known to have caused the deaths of at least three people: two in Australia and one in Singapore

“Do not pick them up,” Dr Reid said. “Be careful of picking up empty shells, such as snail shells, as they may be inside.”

They inhabit depths from intertidal flats down to more than 20m. They tend to hide in crevices or under rocks during the day, and emerge at night.



May 17th 2017

With global warming evident. You must be prepared to meet this octopus in places where they have not been reported before, warning do not touch.

They are very small and not normally blue, they only turn blue if they are disturbed

A timely warning these animals are dangerous, do not buy for your aquarium.

March 18th 2017

A timely warning these animals are dangerous, do not buy for your aquarium.

They are very small and not normally blue, they only turn blue if they are disturbed

Blue-ringed Octopuses, Hapalochlaena maculosa

There are at least 10 species of tiny blue-ringed octopuses, which, ironically for their size, (they are very small, about 2 cm) are the most deadly of all cephalopods. Two well-known examples are the lesser (Southern) blue-ringed octopuses, Hapalochlaena maculosa (Hoyle, 1883), and the greater blue-ringed octopuses, Hapalochlaena lunulata, (Quoy and Gaimard, 1832). The common name comes from the bright blue rings that appear when they are alarmed.

Lesser (Southern) blue-ringed octopuses, Hapalochlaena maculosa, are the larger of the two and more common. When alarmed, they display smaller blue rings (hence the name "lesser") that generally measure less than 2 cm in diameter. They weigh only 28 grams with bodies to 5 cm long and arms to 10 cm. The dorsal (upper) surface of their mantle usually has a rough appearance covered by numerous irregularly arranged wrinkles. There are also fine, unevenly-sized tubercles covering the head and mantle. While resting, the background color is a uniform gray to beige, with large, light brown patches or maculae — thus the name H. maculosa. On their dorsal mantle, 10 maculae form a pattern of brown chevrons. Smaller patches dot their web and base of their arms. All eight arms are marked with approximately 10 evenly spaced brown patches that form bands running down their arms. Their blue rings are usually not visible in animals at rest. When the octopus is agitated, the brown patches darken dramatically, and iridescent blue rings or clumps of rings appear and pulsate within the maculae. Typically 50-60 blue rings cover the dorsal and lateral surfaces of their mantle.

Greater blue-ringed octopuses, Hapalochlaena lunulata, are slightly smaller than Hapalochlaena maculosa with bodies <5 cm long and arms to 7 cm across the tentacles from tip to tip. Their surfaces are often covered with numerous papillae (a small projecting body part similar to a nipple in form), giving it a rough texture. Large iridescent blue rings (hence their name) cover the dorsal (upper) surfaces of their mantle and web and extend out their arms. Rings on their mantle are up to 8 mm in diameter and number fewer than 25. There is a characteristic short, horizontal iridescent blue line that runs through their eyes. When at rest, faint, thin blue rings are usually visible.

While resting, this blue-ringed octopus is a pale brown to yellow color depending on its surroundings. But when alarmed, the octopus displays bright blue rings all over its body and H. lunulata carries enough venom to kill 26 adult humans within minutes (see below for more information on toxicity).

Blue-ringed octopuses, Hapalochlaena maculosa, can be found only in the temperate waters of southern Australia, from southern Western Australia to eastern Victoria at depths ranging from 0-50 m. Hapalochlaena lunulata can be found in shallow reefs and tide pools from northern Australia to Japan, including Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Philippines, and Indonesia and as far west as Sri Lanka at depths ranging from 0-20 m.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

Blue-ringed octopuses feed on small crabs, hermit crabs, and shrimp that it hunts during the day. Two types of venom secreted by two separate venom glands are used against prey and predators. One of the venoms is used for hunting crab, the other, which is extremely toxic, is used as self defense against predators. The venoms are secreted into the blue-ringed octopus's saliva, but the mechanism for poisoning its victim is not well understood. Either the venom is expelled in the saliva into the water or the octopus bites its prey or predator. Once the prey is dead, the octopus begins consuming it with their powerful beak-like mouth.

Life History

The mating ritual for blue-ringed octopuses, H. maculosa and H. lunulata, begins when a male approaches a female and begins to caress her with his modified arm, the hectocotylus. Males then climb on the females back, at times completely engulfing the female's mantle obstructing her vision. The hectocotylus is inserted under the mantle of the female and spermatophores are released into the female's oviduct. The female then lays between 50-100 eggs and guards them by carrying them under her tentacle until they hatch about 50 days later into planktonic paralarvae. The female then dies as she is unable to eat while she guards her eggs. The blue-ringed octopus is about the size of a pea when hatched then grows to reach the size of a golf ball as an adult. They mature quickly and begin mating the following autumn. Males die after mating. Octopuses, along with squid and cuttlefishes have a short lifespan of about 2 years.

Blue-ringed octopuses, such as H. maculosa and H. lunulata, display their blue rings as a warning when threatened. They are not aggressive and tend to avoid confrontation by flattening their body and blending into their surroundings. Humans have only been injured when a blue-ringed octopus is provoked or stepped on.

When the threat is unavoidable, blue-ringed octopuses eject a neuromuscular venom that contains maculotoxin and tetrodotoxin which cause paralysis. This poison is fatal and more potent than any poison found in land animals. Human victims can be saved if artificial respiration begins quickly; however there is no known antidote and the only treatment is ongoing heart massage and artificial respiration until the poison dissipates (usually in 24 hours with no ill-effects).

Symptoms include: nausea, vision loss and blindness, loss of senses, loss of motor skills, respiratory arrest.

This species lacks an ink sac and has therefore become a common addition to the marine aquarium. Toxicologists strongly disagree with this practice because of the potential danger to people who are unaware of the potentially fatal venom.

So that is why you should NOT buy a blue-ringed octopus?

March 1st

Deadly Octopus Spotted During Family Dinner-Prep

A blue-ringed octopus found at a Makro store in Yasothon province, at left, and a living one in the waters off Indonesia, at right by Jens Petersen.

By Chayanit Itthipongmaetee
Staff Reporter

RANONG — A family had sliced up the octopus and was about to cook it for dinner when they noticed blue spots on the meat.

Fortunately one of them was familiar with the poisonous and deadly seafood featured in recent news as a blue-ringed octopus due to the strange blue blemishes.

Supanon Suksai said she bought the cephalopod from a vendor at the Tung Maprao market in Ranong province on Sunday and her family would have eaten it for dinner had her sister not warned that the meat looked like a venomous octopus show in the news and on

Supanon immediately called fishery officers.

Montri Sumonta, a biologist at the Ranong Sea Fishery Station, said that the octopus Supanon bought was a blue-ringed octopus, which is found in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea. The species is known as one of the most toxic marine animals. A single bite can be fatal within minutes.

Montri said that even if the blue-ringed octopus is cooked at high temperature, its poison remains toxic. Consuming it can cause serious poisoning or death.

The octopus has found its way onto store shelves as well.

Yesterday a Makro store in Yasothon province announced it had determined a suspicious octopus found there Feb. 22 turned out to be a blue-ringed octopus. The wholesale retailer has checked back through the supply chain, Makro said Monday, and canceled business with the partner who sold the octopus.


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