Sea Creature of the Week!

Nov 07 2011

Southern Blue-Ringed Octopus

Scientific Name: Hapalochlaena maculosa

Family: Octopodidae

Home: The southern blue-ringed octopus is native to the temperate coastal waters from of South Western to Eastern Australia. This beautiful sea creature likes to primarily hang out in tidal rock pools at depths ranging from 0-50 meters.

Physical Characteristic: This little guy weighs, on average, a mere 28 grams and only grows to  be about 8 inches long (from the top of its mantle to the tip of its arms). At rest, the octopus’ coloring ranges from a gray to beige with 50-60 large light brown patches densely concentrated on the dorsal and lateral surface of its mantle. When provoked, our sea creature friend goes through a dramatic transformation. Its skin turns yellow and the brown patches which darken significantly become encircled by pulsating iridescent blue rings from which it derives its name .

Food: This magnificent octopus’ diet consists of small crabs, shrimp and to a lesser extent fish that it hunts during the day. It catches its prey by jumping it and using highly toxic venom to paralyze it. This poisonous predator will then use its powerful beaklike mouth to tear its victims into pieces and suck the flesh from the crustacean’s exoskeleton.

Fun Facts:

• The Blue-Ringed octopus, although docile, is one of the most poisonous animals in the world. At any given moment it contains enough venom to kill 26 adults within minutes!

• The male octopus will caress the arm of a potential mate before mounting her and  completely engulfing her mantle (usually obstructing her vision in the process). He only experiences the pleasure of mating once since he dies right after planting his seed!

• The female blue-ringed will carry the 50-100 eggs she lays under her tentacle until they hatch. She is unable to eat during the incubation period which is why she dies shortly after!

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