A blue-ringed octopus was hiding in a shell Jacob Eggington, 18, had collected for his niece
A teenager from Australia nearly died after being bitten by a small — but incredibly venomous — sea creature.
Jacob Eggington, 18, was looking for seashells for his young niece at popular Shoalwater Beach, a short drive from Perth, 7News reports.
He found one shell and pocketed it for his niece. However, when Jacob took the shell out of his pocket to give to her, a blue-ringed octopus emerged and bit him — seconds before the toddler held the shell in her own hands.
“As soon as he saw the octopus, he yelled really loud. I grabbed the baby,” his brother Joshua told 7News.
“That's probably one of the more traumatic thoughts to think — what could have happened,” Joshua continued. “He did get bit, but he also probably saved one of his nieces’ or nephews' lives.”
As the Australian Institute of Marine Science points out, the blue-ringed octopus is small — just four to six centimeters long. However, its size belies “a nasty surprise for any potential prey or predators.”
When agitated, the octopus produces the toxin tetrodotoxin, which the CDC says is an “extremely potent poison.”
The toxin paralyzes the victim, but as the Australian Institute of Marine Science explains, “the paralysis that overcomes the victim is only to their voluntary muscles; they remain fully conscious. Death usually occurs as a result of lack of oxygen" (presumably from drowning).
Paramedics immediately put Jacob on a stretcher and took him off the beach. He was treated for nearly six hours at a nearby hospital.
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The incident comes as Australia begins its summer season.
Marine scientist Jennifer Verduin tells 7News that the sea creature is so common, she won’t enter the surf without water shoes on.
“They’re very good at hiding so we wouldn’t normally see them that often. But they are there,” she said. As the Australian Institute of Marine Science points outs, the blue-ringed octopus “tend to hide in crevices” — like shells.
“Collecting shells, although it’s something that we might think is really fun, maybe proceed with a lot of caution,” Joshua told 7News.
Named for their distinctive blue rings which appear when they're about to dispense their venom, the Australian Institute of Marine Science explains that the blue-ringed octopus may be “very beautiful and striking to look at” but advises to “stick to looking at them in photographs!”
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