Photo of the Day: Beautiful But Deadly

Blue-ringed octopus, Borneo

Blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena sp.) off the coast of the Malaysian states of the island of Borneo. Photo by Laurence Murphy. 2010 National Wildlife Photo Contest entry.

What makes it dangerous?

The blue-ringed octopus can kill a human with a single bite. The tiny cephalopod’s saliva contains a powerful toxin that causes muscle paralysis, including the muscles that control breathing.

Blue-ringed octopuses are not aggressive and will only bite humans if provoked or handled. When agitated, the octopus displays vivid, blue rings that pulsate as a warning to back off.

They can be found in shallow, sandy areas off the coast of Australia and in the western Pacific Ocean.

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