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Sep 14 2012

Friday Cephalopod: Don’t cross me when I’m dressed in blue

(via The Lurker’s Guide to Stomatopods.)

20 comments

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  1. 1
    mommiest

    We used to play a game, “Guess the Animal,” with our kids around the dinner table when they were small. Inevitably, our daughter would be thinking of an animal that lived in the sea, and we would guess “an octopus.”

    “What KIND of octopus?” she would ask.

    “Is it poisonous?”

    “Yes.”

    “Is it a blue-ringed octopus?”

    “YES!”

    We always knew where we would end up, and always loved the trip.

  2. 2
    alt3

    Haters gonna hate.

  3. 3
    Lofty

    One of the more dangerous denizens of the shallow waters off our South Australian beaches. Once as a kid I watched a boy throw a coke can onto the beach which he had retrieved off the sea floor. When we inspected the can a blue ring octopus was groggily crawling out of the hole. Respectfully we kept our fingers at a distance. Pretty but painful.

  4. 4
    Glen Davidson

    A few rings not going on my fingers.

    Glen Davidson

  5. 5
    pacal

    Some Blue Ring Octopuses are jet black with blue rings. Stunningly beautiful but very, very deadly. Sadly a lot people don’t realize that some something that beautiful might be saying not “I’m gorgeous”, but “Stay the Fuck away or I’ll kill you!”.

  6. 6
    pipenta

    Lofty, does the venom cause pain? I’d figured it was one of those fancy neurotoxins like the cone snails have. Just stopping your muscles including your heart. (just, ha! As if any attribute of cone snail venom could be described using the word “just”!) Surely a better way to go than envenomation by a stonefish or the sting of a box jelly. I love Cubozoa and all, but if I must expire from a marine toxin, plz FSM, let it be molluscan.

    I have a blue-ringed octopus that lives on my dashboard. It was a finger puppet that I saw in the window of a fancy boutique that sold high-end handmade infant clothing. And I always thought, well this is a fine gift for a toddler, so long as that toddler is not spending time on Indo-Pacific beaches. The animal is gorgeous and the puppet is cute and somehow morbidly hilarious.

  7. 7
    Lofty

    Lofty, does the venom cause pain?

    You’re right of course, half remembered teaching from school.
    From wikipee:

    The blue-ringed octopus, despite its small size, carries enough venom to kill 26 adult humans within minutes. Furthermore, their bites are tiny and often painless, with many victims not realizing they have been envenomated until respiratory depression and paralysis start to set in.[8]

    Still not worth touching…

  8. 8
    A. R

    Show me a cat that can do that!

  9. 9
    ChasCPeterson

    The venom of a blue-ringed bite is tetrodotoxin (TTX). Also found in pufferfish (Fugu) and certain North American newts. In all cases the toxic chemical itself is actually secreted by a commensal bacterium. It irreversibly blocks voltage-gated sodium channels and thereby prevents all nervous impulses (action potentials). Nasty stuff.

  10. 10
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Weird!

    1) I was thinking last night that something like that was what I’d do for my print had I been on Project Runway’s challenge. A very broad interpretation of “heritage.”

    :)

    2) There’s a painting in my “favorite things” file from 1993 by Ray Smith: “T. S. Eliot (A Tryptich).” It’s cool and spookily like that picture. I can’t find the image online (I cut it out of a magazine – probably Art in America), but others might have better luck/access. If no one comes across it, I’ll scan and email it to you, PZ.

  11. 11
    A. R

    I just thought: Wouldn’t a fabric in this pattern make the most beautiful necktie?

  12. 12
    CorvusCorax

    In all cases the toxic chemical itself is actually secreted by a commensal bacterium.”

    Really! Is that true? I did not know that.

    I remember doing a tetrodotoxin experiment in 2nd year bio-lab on a frog leg hooked to electrodes. Game over for muscle contractions.

    The sea, and Australia, terrify me. Everything out to bite or envenomate you. I’ll stay in my evolutionary niche, thank you.

  13. 13
    Lofty

    The sea, and Australia, terrify me. Everything out to bite or envenomate you. I’ll stay in my evolutionary niche, thank you.

    And I am terrified of the US based on what I read about the place! I mean, brown bears and coyotes and rattle snakes and repugs an stuff!

    Dunno about aussie dangers, 49 of my 51 years have been successfully spent here, bitey things tend to be shy so you meet them less than you think. Wear decent gloves before poking around in holes and you’re cool.(and bug spray too) :-)

  14. 14
    DLC

    rings of blue and fellow you’re through.

  15. 15
    mildlymagnificent

    Lofty, I couldn’t agree more.

    We certainly don’t have anything like poison ivy, for instance, which sounds frightful. As for redback spiders, a little commonsense is all you need to avoid them – and we name sports teams after them.

    My suspicion is that a lot of people _really_ don’t get how big! Australia actually is. There’s only one mainland state smaller than Texas, and two states are bigger than Alaska.

    All this guff about being afraid of crocs and sharks _and_ of funnelwebs and redbacks. These things are not found in the same places. It’s like saying you’re afraid of going to San Francisco because of alligators.

  16. 16
    robster

    I grew up in Sydney Australia in suburb called Mosman. Mosman has beaches, at one, Balmoral we often found these Blue ring numbers. There is a naval hospital nearby, they would send medical staff to the beach over summer to warn the kids and to do what they could if there was a bite. They were unable to anything it seemed,at least in ’66. I only remember one victim in 1966. She died quickly and it appeared without much pain. We were warned in school about these, sharks, snakes, spiders and the rest of the deadly menagerie found in the backyard.

  17. 17
    JohnnieCanuck

    There’s a stomatopod, pinned and poisoned underneath that little beauty, according to the linked article.

    Not only that, but sometimes the mantis shrimp objects to being lunch and turns the tables on the octopus.

  18. 18
    Alexander the Good Enough

    @Lofty:
    “Dunno about aussie dangers, 49 of my 51 years have been successfully spent here, bitey things tend to be shy so you meet them less than you think.”

    Yeah? Well, what about them drop bears, huh? Truly nasty little buggers you got there, or so I hear…

  19. 19
    Lofty

    Yeah? Well, what about them drop bears, huh? Truly nasty little buggers you got there, or so I hear…

    I haz a chainsaw, used selectively around drop bear habitat it unnerves them to distraction and they creep away instead…

  20. 20
    devnll

    True story; I kid you not.

    When I lived in Sydney, my parents came to visit. They stayed in the Holiday Inn on Coogee Beach. Their hotel room had a collection of tourist pamphlets about things to do in Sydney, including one from the Sydney Aquarium. It had a caption in it to the effect of “Come touch the animals in our Touch Pool!”…. directly under a picture of a Blue Ring Octopus!

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