A tourist in Australia has appeared on a now viral video holding the small but deadly blue-ringed octopus.

The tiny yet vibrant octopus, which is endemic to Western Australia and northern Tasmania, has the ability to kill a human in just a few minutes with its lethal venom.

The Ocean Conservancy claims the species, whose blue rings appear as a warning signal to predators, has venom that is ‘1,000 times more powerful than cyanide,’ and that these powerful creatures have enough of the stuff to kill 26 humans within minutes.

The octopus feeds primarily on small crustaceans, including shrimps and crabs, but is able to produce a potent neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin, a potentially-deadly substance also found in pufferfish.

The venom works by blocking nerve signals in the body, causing muscle numbness, nausea, vision loss or blindness, loss of senses and loss of motor skills. Eventually muscle paralysis sets in, including the muscles humans need to breathe, which leads to respiratory arrest.

There is currently no known anti-venom to treat a person who has been bitten, but according to the Ocean Conservancy, ‘victims can be saved if artificial respiration is started immediately.’

Its painless bite could go unnoticed at first, so if you see one of these little creatures it pays to be careful. It is only likely to bite you ‘if cornered or handled.’ There have been no known deaths from blue ringed octopus bites since the 1960s.

Main image: Stock photo via Pixabay.

SOURCEIFL Science
Lorna Dockerill
Lorna fell in love with scuba diving back in 2011 during a trip to Thailand and Australia. Having always dreamt of seeing a sea turtle in the wild, her dream was realised on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef while training to become a certified diver. Since then she’s developed a passion for the natural world, writing about wildlife photography – both the on land and underwater kind – for the past eight years.

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