Biological Diversity 2003    Spring 2003

*A beutiful blue-ringed octopus just before he bit and killed the photogropher. Just kinding, no photographers were injured in the makeing of this picture. Found at

Kingdom: Anamalia

Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Octopoda
Suborder: Incirrina
Family: Octopodidae
Genus: Hapalochlaena
Species: Hapalochlaena maculosa, and Hapalochlaena lunulata


Mating Habits

Mating begins when an interested male approaches and starts caressing the female with his modified arm, the hectocotylus. He then inserts the hectocotylus under the mantle of the female and the spermatophores are then released into the female's oviduct. The female then lays ~100 eggs and guards them until they hatch ~50 days later. The mother dies soon after the eggs hatch because she during the guarding of the eggs she is unable to eat.

*Bow-ckiki-bow-bow!!! Look at these two lovely boogers gettin it on! Unfortunetly, they will die within the next few months. Found at

What to do if you get bit!

The bite of the blue-ringed octopus may be painless but it is definetly deadly. Its venom contains some maculotoxin which is more violent than any animals found on land. This poisen is 10,000 times more potent that cyanide. Upon being bitten, the victom's nerve conduction is stopped and paralysis sets in after a few minutes. Paralysis is then followed by death. Some symtoms are as follows:



*Loss of all other senses

If you do see someone get bit you should immediatly call 911, and then apply compresion to the wound as if it was a snake bite. Artificial respiration should also be started as soon as possible. The only way to survive is hours of heart massage and artificial respiration until the poisin has worked its way out of the system. There is no anit-venom to date.

Quick Facts

  • The blue rings are only visible when the Blue-ringed octopus is about to atack
  • It has a tiny, parrot like, beak that can bite through your wetsuit
  • The Blue-ringed octopus is only the size of a golf ball but still carries enough poisin to kill 26 humans in minutes
  • The poisin is not injected but comes from it's saliva
  • They are found in shallow coral and rock pools in Australia

Stuffed Animals For Sale


Its an alien!!!!!!!

*Its a bird, its a plane, its an alien, nope....its a blue-ringed octopus. Again, getting ready to bite. Found at


The Blue-Ringed Octopus


Physical Characteristics: The Blue-Ringed Octopus (BRO) is a very small organism, belonging to the family of Octopodidae. Like all octopi, they are soft-bodied organisms with eight arms or tentacles. It grows to a maximum length of 200mm when totally spread, and most are shorter than this. The octopus has a mass of 10-100g and is about the size of a golf ball. The BRO is normally dark brown to dark yellow in color but changes to a vivid yellow with bright blue rings when agitated (Blue Zoo, 200.

Habitat and Distribution: The BRO can be found in shallow reefs and tide pools from Japan to Australia, and can be found at depths ranging from 0 to 20 m (Caldwell, 2000).

Food and Feeding: The octopus has two poison glands that secrete tow types of poison into the saliva. One type of poison secreted is primarily effective against crabs, its primary food source, and the other is very toxic and is used against predators for defensive purposes. It is not yet known whether the octopus simply secretes saliva near prey, and waits for it to become incapacitated, or if it actually bites its prey. Once the prey is dead, the octopus begins consuming it with its powerful beak-like mouth (McConnell, 2000).

Development and Lifespan: The BRO hatches from eggs (one of 60-100 according to the authors of the following website: ) and is about the size of a pea at the start of its life. The octopus will quickly grow and mature until it reaches the average adult size, about equivalent to the size of a golf ball. The life expectancy of a Blue-ringed octopus is about 2 years (Caldwell, 2000; McConnell, 2000).

Behavior: according to a University of Michigan website ($narrative.html#behavior), the blue-ringed octopus exhibits the typical octopus behavior in that is tends to live in crevices or holes, burrows as a way of gaining protection, and advertises its toxicity by changing to iridescent colors when aggravated. The octopus can commonly be found in shallow tide pools after storm, searching for crabs and bivalves.

Conservation Status

The Blue-ringed octopus is not an endangered species. It in neither on the IUCN list ( or the CITES list

Conservation Issues

The most threatening factors concerning the blue-ringed octopus are those that are posed by humans. One problem that humans cause for the BRO is that since they have a reputation for being very venomous, humans have been known to kill them out of fear. Another threat that people pose to the octopus is that because of its strong venom, members of Australia’s world-leading venom industry harvest it.

Toxicologists fear that those harvesting the BRO for venom are not fully aware of how deadly the octopus is. An increase in human casualties due to BRO bites could really hurt its public image and cause more killing of the species.

Conservation Organizations

The following organizations are interested in conserving the BRO’s habitat by protecting Australia’s reef systems:

Great Barrier Marine Park Authority,

Australian Marine Conservation Society,

Australian Institute for Marine Science,


Literature Cited

BARRIERREEFAUSTRALIA. 2003 February 25. BarrierReefAustralia: Dangers on the reef. <> . Accessed 2003 March 30.

Brouwer, W., Hochgrebe, T. 2003 March 29. Planula Dive Photo Gallery. <>. Accessed 2003 March 30.

Cephalopod Research. 2002 August 19. The Blue Ringed Octopus. <>. Accesed 2003 March 30.

Cephbase. 2003 March 25. Cephbase: Hapalochlaena maculosa. <>. Accessed 2003 March 30.

Dalhousie University. 2003 February 27. Hapalochlaena lunulata. <>. Accessed 2003 March 30.

Dr. Caldwell, R. 2000 April 1. Death in a Pretty Package: The Blue-Ringed Octopus. <>. Accessed 2003 March 27.

Interesting animals, The World's most poisonous octopus is the size of a golf ball. <>. Accessed 2003 April 1.

McConnell, A. 2000 May. Hapalochlaena. <$narrative.html#conservation>. Accessed 2003 March 30.

Melbourne Aquarium. 2000 April 1. Blue Zoo Aquarium Education. <>. Accessed 2003 March 27.

Ray, K. 2000 May. Hapalochlaena lunulata, Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus. <$narrative.html>. Accessed 2003 March 30.

Roper, C.F.E. and F.G. Hochberg,. 1999 February 23. Hapalochlaena lunulata. <>. Accessed 2003 April 1.





Author: Jon Sheedy, Sam Beasley
Creation/revision date:1 april 2003



Pretty in Pink

*This little lady put on her pink dress for a night on the prowl. Not really, sometimes the blue-ringed octopus displays a pink pattern as opposed to the typical yellowish pattern. Found at

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This website is part of a Biology 226 class project on the conservation of global biodiversity.

Earlham · Biology Department · Biology 226: Biological Diversity

Copyright © 2003 Earlham College.



. Send corrections or comments to Jon Sheedy &Sam Beasley