Blue-ringed octopus found at Encounter Bay

DEADLY: This blue-ringed octopus was spotted by Avalon Rose while walking at Encounter Bay recently. Although common, they are most active at night and not often seen.

DEADLY: This blue-ringed octopus was spotted by Avalon Rose while walking at Encounter Bay recently. Although common, they are most active at night and not often seen.

ENCOUNTER BAY – The discovery of a blue-ringed octopus at Encounter Bay should serve as a reminder that the species should never be directly handled.

Encounter Bay’s Avalon Rose discovered the octopus recently, while walking along the shoreline.

“We couldn't believe our eyes,” Ms Rose said. 

“It was already blue so was obviously agitated when we found it on the shoreline. I've lived in Encounter Bay for nine years and walk my dogs morning and night and I've never seen one.”

Dr Mandy Reid, of the Australian Museum Research Institute, said the octopus was a hapalochlaena maculosa, which are very common in southern parts of Australia.

“Members of this genus have powerful neurotoxins including tetrodotoxin,” Dr Reid said. 

“Bites have resulted in human fatalities so they should never be directly handled.”

Dr Reid said the blue-ringed octopus was common to coastal areas, but not often seen.

“They’re quite secretive and even though they’re very common, you don’t see them because they hide in crevices and rock pools.

“They are most active at night.”

The blue-ringed octopus secretes poison from glands behind its beak, with which it bites its prey. 

It is known to have caused the deaths of at least three people: two in Australia and one in Singapore

“Do not pick them up,” Dr Reid said. “Be careful of picking up empty shells, such as snail shells, as they may be inside.”

They inhabit depths from intertidal flats down to more than 20m. They tend to hide in crevices or under rocks during the day, and emerge at night.