Another Australian Killer: The Blue Ringed Octopus

More reasons to stick to the swimming pool.

So far we have looked at three killer sea creatures namely: cone snails, stonefish and box jellyfish. Without a doubt, stonefish was butt-ugly! This next killer has to be the prettiest of the bunch.

Time to meet the Blue Ringed Octopus.

Living in Brisbane as I do, it’s refreshing to note that this particular killer doesn’t swim around our shores as it is only found on the southern coast of Australia. Apart from one small fact. The video has got it wrong!

This octopus is found throughout the Indo-West-Pacific; from the Philippines through Singapore and across to India and……… throughout the whole of Australia including New Zealand.

The venom of the blue ringed octopus may be lethal but the chances of being bitten by one are very rare. The only recorded incidents of fatalities occurred when the octopus was picked up and lifted out of the water.

BobinOz instant tip: don’t pick up a blue ringed octopus.

But apparently, because they look pretty, some people do.

BobinOz instant tip number 2: don’t pick up the yellow octopus with dark brown rings. Because that’s what the blue ringed octopus looks like before it gets angry.

As mentioned in the video there have only been three fatalities in the last century. I heard that one of those was in Singapore and the other two were here in Australia. A third source suggested there may have been four deaths attributed to the blue ringed octopus. But whichever way you look at it, you really do have more chance of being struck by lightning than meeting your maker following an encounter with this eight footed mollusc.

But that doesn’t mean you should not be vigilant, especially with young ones on the beach. These golf ball sized creatures hide in rocks and inside disused shells…. that would be the kind of rocks and shells my daughter is constantly picking up looking for prettier rocks and shells.

So if you do have young children and you are coming over to Australia to live, or perhaps you’re already living here, get them to check out these videos on BobinOz. Turn the sound down (to avoid nightmares) and just explain what not to touch.


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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Gustus January 26, 2014, 4:53 pm |

    How fast do the stings kill you? Is every sting fatal, or have people been stung more than 3 times this century? How common are they in Tasmania?


    • BobinOz January 28, 2014, 4:47 pm |

      I think death can follow a bite quite quickly, sometimes in minutes, heart attack usually. I don’t know how often people get bitten here, but I do know that with the right treatment people can and do survive. These things do hide in rocks though, if you leave them alone, then you should be fine. As I say in the article, only people who picked them up have died so far.

  • Ryan November 2, 2013, 8:55 pm |

    um… I don’t think it’s right that you are telling people Blue Ring Octopus don’t live in Brisbane… We have two out of the three species COMMON in our waters.. in fact, one of the two deaths recorded in Australia was at Redcliffe, a suburb on the northside of Brisbane.

    • BobinOz November 3, 2013, 9:51 pm |

      Um… if only you had read all of my article before making that statement… 🙂

  • brian February 27, 2013, 1:09 pm |

    Bob I love the site and these articles I’ve got a phone interview tomorrow with a company in Brisbane (I live in Colorado). I keep a special file for stories like those of people dying after picking up a blue ringed octopus. It’s called the “You Probably Deserved It” file.

    • BobinOz February 28, 2013, 12:36 am |

      Yes, it is a bit of a Darwin Award thing isn’t it? Good luck with your interview!

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