Of all the creatures in the oceans, it seems like the “blue” ones are the most threatening in our imaginations. Blue sharks, for example, spark a bit of fear just by their name. Blue whales conjure up childhood memories of stories of being swallowed and later spit back out in some foreign land. Some of the most beautiful, and dangerous animals in the ocean are blue. Beautiful by nature, and dangerous by reputation is the blue-ringed octopus.
When I arrived in the Philippines, I was given an orientation on some of the underwater hand-signals for various creatures and critters. One of these signals was placing your fingers in an “okay” sign and tapping it up your arm three times. This signals that there is a blue-ringed octopus nearby. When my guide first gave me this signal, I had forgotten its significance and I brushed him off because I was focusing my camera on a very large frog fish. My guide very patiently waited for me, then gave me the signal again for the blue-ringed octopus. I wasn’t sure what he was showing me, so I followed him to where a small group of divers were excitedly gesturing. As soon as I saw it, it dawned on me that I had missed an important sign from my guide. I sheepishly gave him the okay sign, then began to snap away happily on my camera.
The blue ringed octopus has a reputation for being the most venomous critter in the ocean. Although this octopus is smaller than the palm of my hand, it produces a lethal toxin called Tetrodotoxin that can kill a person in a matter of minutes. As menacing as that may sound, there have only been three recorded deaths in the last 100 years attributed to a blue ringed octopus bite. It is considered the Holy Grail of under water photo subjects by some divers. Most of the time it appears tan, or golden in color, but when it is alarmed it’s blue rings become prominent. It was a treat to see this creature with it’s undulating rings as it postured itself against my presence.
Click below to watch an interesting and informative video on the blue ringed octopus.