One of the deadliest animals on the planet, the Blue Ring Octopus’s venom is enough to kill 26 adults. However, this small and extremely shy animal should not be feared. Rather, it should be revered and loved, with its incredible physiology and survival strategies. All species of octopus have an incredible story to tell and one we are excited to share.
Blue Ring Octopus Description
The Blue Ring Octopus belongs to the cephalopod class of animals. This also includes all 300 known species of octopus, squid and nautilus. The cephalopods are one of the most ancient of all classes of animals. They first emerged around 522 million years ago. They also are believed to have ruled the waters of our planet for over 360 million years.
There are four known species of Blue Ring Octopus, with another six suspected. The four known species are:
- Greater blue-ringed octopus(Hapalochlaena lunulata)
- Southern blue-ringed octopusor lesser blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa)
- Blue-lined octopus(Hapalochlaena fasciata)
- Another species described by a single specimen is called Hapalochlaena nierstraszi
Blue Ring Octopus Physiology
The octopus has one of the most unique physiologies of any animal we have covered to date. These animals have even been hypothesized to be from another world. The authors hypothesize that an icy comet during the Cambrian Explosion (~500 million years ago) might have brought life with it. The article is HERE. While interesting, consensus is no, while cool to think about, the octopus evolved here on our own planet.
The Blue Ring Octopus is known to range in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
What makes octopus unique is not only their eight arms, but how they control them. An octopus has nine brains. They have a single brain to control their central nervous system, and then each arm has its own cluster of nerves. This is allowing each arm to act independently on its own.
Then, an octopus has three hearts! Their systemic heart carries their blue, copper rich, blood throughout their bodies. Then the two branchial hearts are used to circulate blood around their gills. The body of an octopus is made up 90% of muscle.
Each tentacle of an octopus has on average 230 cups. Each cup acts as a human fingertip, and in actuality is even more sensitive with 4x the sensory receptors to our own fingertip.
All octopuses are venomous. Meaning they can inject venom into their prey or a potential predator with their beaks. The Blue Ring Octopus has one of the deadliest venoms on our planet. Their tetrodotoxin has been described as being 1000x more deadly than cyanide. However, no human deaths have been reported since the 1960s due to a Blue Ring Octopus bite. In fact, these octopuses are extremely shy and only bite as a last resort of defense.
The IUCN states the Blue Ring Octopus is data deficient. However, with the crisis we find in our oceans with pollution, over fishing and now coral bleaching, many species of octopus must be feeling its impacts. When the ecosystem starts to break down in the oceans, octopuses will and are being affected.
Organizations to Support
Ocearch (Shark tracker)