The Blue Ringed Octopus is generally found in rock pools encompassing the entire Australian coasline.
When it’s not hunting for food, it hides for it’s own protection from larger predators, in the rock pools and large empty shells of other sea creatures. This enchanting creature has been the downfall of many curious adult and child. About the size of a golf ball in body, with the normal eight tenticals. It’s normally a pale colour, usually the same as the rocks it hides in as camoflage, but when it’s disturbed and feels threatened, it produces vibrant electric blue rings as a warning sign. The toxin it produces is delivered via the saliva surrounding the beak, not by injection as a snake delivers venom.
The venom acts as a neurotoxin and completely
immobilizes the victim, except for their cognitive facility…they remain completely concious throughout the ordeal, although they are unable to move, speak and eventually breath without assistance.
It is important to remember this fact, and not alarm the victim by negative conversation about them dying, or the seriousness of their condition, especially when dealing with a child, as they are completely aware of what is happening around them.
There is no antivennene for a blue ringed octopus toxin.
The treatment of a bite is to immobilize the bite area by pressure bandage and keep the victim breathing, by mouth to mouth resuscitation until they can be admitted to hospital and put on a mechanical respirator. This can be required for up to 24 hours, until the toxin wears off. Recovery is normally achieved in 24 hours, with no harm done, and death is rare, but it has occured.
The life of a Blue Ringed Octopus is a short one, lasting only one year.
Shortly after mating the male dies, leaving the female to hatch the eggs alone. She lays approximately 50 eggs in each clutch, nursing them carefully under her tenticles for around 3 or 4 months until they hatch. During hatching she tends them lovingly, turning them, and squirting them with water to keep them free of parasitic sea creatures. The young are hatched around the size of a pea. Shortly after the hatching, the female dies, leaving her offspring to repeat the yearly life cycle of the species.
The young grow rapidly, and reach sexual maturity in autumn, around April, May. The the breeding cycle continues.
As rock pools seem to be a fascinating place for children, it’s important when visiting a seaside area to ensure that your children are aware of the ‘look but don’t touch’ policy, best applied to these most enchanting little sea creatures.