One of the best parts about traveling is all the friends you make and the colorful people you meet. They might speak different languages and come from different parts of the world, but most are human. There are, however, a few new friends who don’t have limbs. Instead, they have fur, or big ears or more than two legs!
Animals you’ve never seen before elicit an immediate curiosity. For someone who didn’t grow up in Australia, you can’t help but want to see a kangaroo or an echidna. It’s human nature to be drawn to things we aren’t familiar with. One thing is for sure though, especially in Australia, when you’re in the company of a new “friend,” you should know a thing or two before getting too close.
Found in the tide pools and coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian oceans in many parts of Australia, particularly in the south-east, there lives an adorable-looking blue-ringed octopus. The skin appears rough and yellowish, with a repeated pattern of glowing blue and black rings that can change in color when they are stressed. Small enough to fit in your hand, its arm span is between 12 and 20 centimeters and they are docile creatures, provoked only when handled aggressively.
Although rather innocuous-looking, and arguably really beautiful to see and watch (they are nocturnal, so running into one is pretty rare), the blue-ringed octopus is a killer. The species contains a neurotoxic venom, each octopus carrying enough of the poison to kill 26 adult humans in the span of a few minutes. Yes, the blue-ringed octopus is pretty, but they are very, very dangerous, which is why this video has been making waves across the Internet.
A tourist with a bare hand is seen holding one of these cute but deadly creatures. Marine ecology expert Michael Keough from the University of Melbourne explains that picking up one of these creatures and exposing your skin to where its beak is located (it’s a millimeters-long horny barb on its underside nestled between tentacles) gives the animal the opportunity to strike at any moment. “It can only bite if it’s on top of something,” he says.
Injury and death are rare, and they only release the venom when someone is doing something harmful to them, but it’s children who need to be warned. They are at the most risk since they tend to be attracted to bright colors. There is no anti-venom for bites because these instances are so few and far between. “If you see an octopus with bright blue rings, enjoy it but don’t touch it. They’re beautiful little animals,” Michael says.
Click the video below to watch this little blue-ringed octopus in action–for your safety, if you ever come across one, don’t handle it like this person!