Friday Cephalopod: Adorable! I will name him George and I will hug and pet him and squeeze him!


Uh, maybe not. What if it gives you a tiny little nibble?

Now, 10 minutes later, you notice something strange. Your lips are going numb. So is your face. You want to yell for help but can’t: It’s getting harder to speak. And your stomach feels—oh, gross! Right in front of everyone.

Somebody calls an ambulance. It’s getting tough to stand. It’s getting tough to breathe. The numbness is spreading to your hands, feet, and chest. And you continue to be aware for every agonizing moment of it.

You get to the hospital in time. You get hooked up to a ventilator, the machine forcing air into your lungs because your diaphragm is paralyzed. No antidote, the doctors say. You have to wait it out. About 15 long hours later, your muscles start working again. They take you off the ventilator. You can breathe.


  1. Glenn Graham says

    The primary school I went to as kid was across the road from the beach and one day our teacher took us down there to explore some rock pools and there it was, just minding it’s own octopus business.

  2. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Ahh the blue ringed octopus. It is both reassuring and disturbing that it is actually not very big, so if it comes up with you on your scuba mask or snorkel you might not notice till too late.

  3. Ragutis says

    That sounds utterly terrifying. But I guess that’s how a lot of things get such fearsome reputations, the survivors’ stories are far scarier than the actual death toll.

  4. Lofty says

    Just don’t try to play with a beer can discarded on the sea floor, these guys love to play hide and seek inside them.

  5. Ragutis says

    Is it preferable to be envenomed by a bite, or infected with diseases?

    You’ll have to be a bit more specific. I’ll take pink eye or gonorrhea over a C.fleckeri sting or Taipan bite anyday.

  6. Atticus Dogsbody says

    When I was around 9 or 10 my brother and were playing on the tidal rocks at Queenscliff, Victoria. A guy called us over with a “Hey, fellas, look at this.” There were three blue rings swimming around together in a small rock pool. It was a pretty cool sight.

  7. sundoga says

    You know, living in Australia really does change your perspective on certain physical dangers. I was visiting my sister in the Pacific Northwest a few years ago, and we were walking a nature trail together, and came upon a Coral Snake sunning itself in the middle of the trail. So I just got a long stick and gently encouraged it to go somewhere else. My sister and a couple onlookers couldn’t believe I’d done it. I just noted that even if I’d been bitten, they’d still have had hours to get me to an emergency department – plenty of time!

  8. Ragutis says

    blue bottles

    If you mean Portuguese Man O’War, I’ve had several run ins with them over the years. A couple days of onshore wind and there they are. One of my first memories of Florida is popping them on the beach with a stick. One scary encounter was a tentacle grazing my face from my temple to my chin as I was duck-diving a wave. Just missed my eye. But the worst was me pretty much just sticking my arm into a tangle of tentacles while paddling. No little balloon floaty bit around, just a mess of tentacles. It wrapped around my arm up to the elbow. Anyone want to guess what I did next? I’ll give you a second…

    I tried to pull it off with my other hand. Don’t do this. Ended up with bumpy welts all over both arms and hands, my right thigh, and a couple of nice stripes across my chest and stomach. The pain goes away after an hour or so, but then the itching starts. For me it was a couple of days. Maddening. Made me want to fill a bathtub with caladryl lotion.

  9. chigau (違う) says

    I am quite sure that when we apes gave up the aquatic we were much safer.
    I mean, you can see and hear the lions and tigers and bears.
    All that silent, gooey ocean stuff…

  10. bytee says

    As a teenager my brother and I used to go snorkelling for scallops in a sheltered bay here in South Australia. We used to stuff the scallops down our bathers and then take them back to the boat. Until one day when we’d boiled the scallops, we found two dead blue-rings in the pot. They’d been using the dead scallop shells as a home. After that we changed to carry bags. We same so close to getting a blue-ring bite smack on the old didgeridoo…..

  11. Ragutis says

    I am quite sure that when we apes gave up the aquatic we were much safer.

    In 2014, there were 72 shark attacks reported globally, 3 fatal. In 2013, 75 attacks, 10 fatal. 2012: 83 attacks, 7 fatal.

    If you’ll forgive me, I’ll just make a link to the Wikipedia article Fatal dog attacks in the United States

    Conclusion: sharks are clearly cuddlier than dogs.

    J/K. There’s obviously dangers in the ocean, but there are everywhere. I grew up across the street from the Atlantic and found some excuse to get wet every chance I had from age 7 into my 20s. You learn that man o’ wars show up after a day or two of onshores, but if there’s waves, you risk it and give the ones you see wide berth. I never had box jellyfish to deal with, but in Australia and Hawaii, they know when to expect them and post warnings, put out nets, and stock the hospitals with antivenin.

    Sharks? You avoid schools of bait. You use riptides to help you paddle out, but you don’t linger around the edges. An outgoing tide is not the safest time to surf the jetties at the inlet. In 44 years, I’ve vaguely known one guy that got nipped by a nurse shark. At least half a dozen people in my high school class died in car accidents and a few in other ways over those 4 years. Won’t even try to guess how many ended up in ER for alcohol poisoning, let alone other reasons. (But I’m gonna guess a lot were from BMX. Rad came out in ’86. Diamondback vs Mongoose was like Ford vs Chevy, or Biggie vs Tupac.)

    A sting ray, jelly, or shark can ruin your day, but a lot more people die and get hurt on their way to a beach than do once there. Hear thunder, get under cover. See a shark, get out of the water. The J-Bay Open got underway in South Africa yesterday. There’s great whites seen there all the time, but surfers flock to that spot. Companies with millions of dollars invested in their athletes are willing to sponsor the contest and send their cash cows into the lineup. Hell, they were just in Fiji, and on top of sharks, there’s stonefish, box jellies, and sea snakes there.

    Life’s a risk. But I’m not bragging, not by any means. I won’t dip my toes in a pond or lake. There’s logic for ya. Brain eating amoebas, water moccasins and gators… NOPE. And the water’s dark, can’t even see your feet. Not for me.

    I guess it’s all a matter of familiarity and conditioning.


    Wow… that’s long. Maybe another beer will curb my loquaciousness.

  12. Ragutis says

    We same so close to getting a blue-ring bite smack on the old didgeridoo…..

    That would have really sucked, but I’ve heard of scallops giving people who did likewise quite a nip in the nethers as well. You were doubly lucky, it seems.

  13. RobertL says

    Sundoga @ 15 – I was on a guided walk through the Amazon a couple of years ago and the guide pointed out a Golden Orb Spider in a tree. (Well, I think that’s what it was called.) We stopped and let everybody have a good look at it.

    After a few minutes, a friend of mine pointed out that it was only the Brits and Europeans taking photos and paying it any attention, all of the Australians were just hanging around waiting to get going again.

    It was just another venomous spider to us, and not even particularly deadly.

  14. LightningRose says

    Bytee @18
    “We same so close to getting a blue-ring bite smack on the old didgeridoo…..”

    Stop bragging!

  15. bytee says

    Hey lightning! I’m not bragging. I had two live blue-rings down my pants, right next to my billabongs…..

  16. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    Blue Ringed Octopus! Terrifying little fuckers.

    Argh, where is that quote from? Was it a Loony Tunes?

  17. caseloweraz says

    The blue-ring is the featured creature in Michael Crichton’s State of Fear — just the sort of thing a nefarious pro-environment organization would pick to aid its dirty work, apparently.

  18. says

    I survived. I was bitten on the outside of my right palm when I was about 14. Nice little scar there forty years later. It was pretty horrible experience. Fortunately it was only 5 minutes away from a hospital and I had bled profusely from the bite which I guess may have drained some of the venom away.