Thousands of species of fish and other sea life abound in the Great Barrier Reef that spreads across the northern coast of Australia. The reef, composed of sea creatures from multi-colored fish to the living coral is the habitation of underwater animals and plants. No wonder, scuba divers and snorkelers go over the top to marvel at this amazing environment.
In the midst of this breathtaking beauty, however, the fiercely poisonous blue ringed octopus hides in the clear waters of the reef. This tiny but magnificent creature produces two types of poison in special glands that secrete the lethal substance into its salvia. When it becomes agitated, the dark yellow octopus turns into its famous vivid yellow hue with the blue ringed pattern and can potentially bite the aggressor, thus introducing venom into the victim.
This toxin is substantially detrimental to the victim~over
10,000 times the potency of cyanide. Upon entry into the
system~s bloodstream, the poison attacks the nervous system
and stops the conduction of nerves, resulting in paralysis.
As the paralysis takes over the victim~s body, essential
organs such as the heart and lungs will stop working.
While diving or snorkeling on Australia~s Great Barrier
Reef, humans may potentially come in contact with this
small octopus. Usually, the blue ringed octopus is
reclusive and lives in crevices or holes, but can venture
into small tide pools or other shallow water to hunt. Most
humans who are bitten by the blue ringed octopus come
across the creature when it is hunting. Due to its small
size, a diver may not notice it. Adivercan disturb the
octopus and not even feel its bite.
A blue ringed octopus has a sharp, beak-like mouth and has the capability
to penetrate a wetsuit. The Australian government has taken
steps to educate and warn visitors of the potential dangers
of the blue ringed octopus. Signs mark areas where the
blue ringed octopus is known to inhabit, warning divers and
swimmers to avoid contact with the small creature.
The victim of the blue ringed octopus must seek medical help immediately. The trouble is that many times the victim does not feel the bite or any pain because of it. The symptoms to watch out for are nausea and loss of sensation. Then loss of eyesight indicates the beginning of the failure of organs. There is no antidote and the poison has to be thrown out of the body naturally. For this purpose the patient is put on a ventilator to help with the breathing and functioning of the heart when he is paralysed.
Eslori Australia is the webmaster and operator of Explore Australia, Inc. www.exploreaustralia.com which is a premier resource for Australia information. For questions or comments about this article, please visit: www.exploreaustralia.com
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