Blue Ringed Octopus: Definition, Types, & Examples

  • Post last modified:September 27, 2021
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Blue Ringed Octopus Definition

Blue Ringed Octopus belongs to Genus Hapolochlaena and order Octopoda. It is a venomous species that has a life span of 2 years. This cephalopod is a marine organism found in the shallow intertidal region and feeds on fish, birds, and eel.

What is Blue Ringed Octopus?

The genus Hapolochlaena to which Blue Ringed Octopus belongs comprises 4 species. They are named according to the patterns of blue rings found on them. They have a fatal venom and are one of the most venomous organisms found in the ocean.

Blue ringed octopus has a bulbous mantle out of which 8 arms emerge. They usually are of yellow or dull brown color depending on the species. When they are threatened they show warning signs in form of bright blue rings about 25 in number.

They are small ranging from 5 to 8 inches. The females are larger and their size is determined by nutrient availability, light, and temperature. It utilizes a jet propulsion technique common in cephalopods that help in expelling water.

Blue Ringed Octopus Behavior and Ecology

Blue Ringed Octopus resides in coral reefs, crevices, or rocky areas of intertidal regions. They are found generally in Vanuatu and the Philippines, though they are distributed from Australia to Southeast Asia. They can often be found in tide pools within the intertidal or hiding in crevices along the substrate.

They usually hide in crevices but when they get out of their lair they built a small secure place by piling rocks to hide from predators. As even though it shows warning bright coloration, they still have some natural predators like birds, eel, and some fishes.

They must attack suddenly without arousing the attention to be able to eat the octopus without getting any bites. For if the octopus is threatened it will attack its predator with its venom as a result the predator may die. It can then either feed on it or leave it if it has no appetite or if the predator is too big.

They use their venom to prey on various organisms. Their prey includes some fishes and crustaceans. It punches on the unsuspecting prey and using its vicious tentacles pulls it to devour it. At this stage, it pierces the prey via its beak and paralyzes it and then leading to the death of the prey.

Blue Ringed Octopus Reproduction

The females reproduce only once in a life span of 2 years. When females become sexually mature, the males approach and caress them, if the female is interested then with its arms the male grabs the female, and employing hectocotylus that is a modified arm they insert sperm packets into her mantle cavity.

The female octopus lays about 50 eggs at a time each autumn on the rocky substrate or reefs. In the next 6 months, she incubates these eggs and ensures they get a steady supply of oxygen. The female octopus does not eat during this time. The female octopus dies on the hatching of eggs.

The offspring look like tiny octopuses and they often hide in crevices or reefs. They are independent and hunt for prey using their venom. They reach sexual maturity in a year and the reproductive cycle and the associated process starts.

Fun Facts about Blue Ringed Octopus!

Despite its size and the fact that it hides often, it is still a venomous creature that is also fascinating. Similar to other cephalopods, they can also alter their shape and their appearance as an adaptation to avoid predators.

Blue Ringed Octopus are Friendly but Deadly

They do not possess a threat to humans until they are provoked in which case it will attack with its venom. A component of this deadly venom is tetrotoxin that can lead to paralysis as it is a neurotoxin. This toxin is also found in other venomous organisms like the pufferfish. This toxin is actually synthesized by bacteria and these organisms form a symbiotic relationship with them.

This toxin is used by these octopuses to prey and to avoid their predators. Research has proved that the female octopus injects the eggs with the toxin that initiates the process of toxin production in the young before hatching. The neurotoxin released by this octopus can be potentially fatal as the paralysis spreads to diaphragm smooth muscles, leading to collapse and respiratory failure and can cause death.

Though it is small in size, it has enough venom to kill 26 humans in a matter of minutes. If anyone gets bit by this octopus, immediate pressure should be applied on the wound site and simultaneously starting artificial respiration. In the hospital, all the toxins will be flushed out og=f the body that can take up to 24 hrs.

Blue Ringed Octopus are Shape Shifter

They can alter their shape to snuggle in the crevices or small holes. They can also show warning coloration or aposematic display when threatened. In such conditions, bright blue rings can be visible on its body that will ward off the predators.


The male octopuses do not differentiate between the age or size of their species for mating. They may even try to mate anyone even a male of their species. But all these interactions are short and no sperm transfer occurs.

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