A regular visitor to Narooma has issued a warning about blue-ringed octopuses after her family encountered one at the Narooma Bridge last week.
Blue-ringed octopuses are thought of as one of the most dangerous animals in the sea. Although their powerful venom has caused some human fatalities, they are very shy and non-aggressive creatures that prefer to hide under ledges and in crevices.
Missy Haddock contacted the Narooma News via Facebook after her sister Katie and aunt Suzanne Haddock came across the deadly creature under the bridge, near the rock wall.
“My little boy has studied and had a fascination with these little buggers for a couple of years, so we know to definitely not touch them!” Missy said. “It was just surprising that they actually seen one swimming and moving around.
“We kept fishing down there as it's our favourite spot, but we were warning everyone that went near where it was seen. I do think its important that locals and visitors know! My 7-year-old old son swims there every year, and I never would have thought there would be a blue-ringed octopus around.”
According to the Australian Museum, the saliva of blue-ringed octopuses contains the powerful nerve toxin, tetrodotoxin. This chemical acts to paralyse prey or predators by blocking nerves from transmitting messages.
In humans the toxin acts to cause respiratory failure whilst victims remain fully conscious.Blue-ringed octopuses have been responsible for at least three human fatalities and numerous near-fatalities.
Blue-ringed octopuses however are timid creatures and will avoid people. It is only when they are handled, harassed or squashed that they have bitten, according to the Museum website.
Encounters with humans usually result in the octopus quickly darting for cover. It is only when the animal is picked up that it is likely to ‘bite’ and inject its paralysing venom.
The bite of Hapalochlaena fasciata may not be felt but within minutes symptoms include numbness of the lips and tongue, difficulty in breathing, followed by complete paralysis of the breathing muscles.
Rapid use of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation has saved the lives of more than 10 documented bite victims. In the event of a suspected bite, seek immediate medical attention.