How to deal with a blue-ringed octopus bite

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The blue-ringed octopus generally lives in rock pools, shallow waters and under shells. If contact with the octopus occurs, it is typically by accident. Remember that it is vital to avoid holding this octopus since its stings holds tetrodotoxin which causes paralysis and a sting is usually deadly.

Since it is not aggressive, most bites occur after picking up or handling the octopus or stepping on it. Avoid picking up or handling one and when walking in the beach, shuffle the feet.

What are the signs?

Remember that a blue-ringed octopus bite is highly venomous to humans. If an individual was bit by one, call for emergency assistance right away.

  • Most bites by a blue-ringed octopus causes minor pain during the initial 5-10 minutes and start to throb and turn numb and can affect the entire extremity bitten.
  • Severe bleeding
  • Nausea, numbness, vomiting, visual changes and difficulty swallowing
    blue-ringed octopus bite
    Nausea, numbness, vomiting, visual changes and difficulty swallowing.
  • Right after 10 minutes, the victim might have trouble breathing and end up paralyzed and require ventilation until transported to a healthcare facility. The paralysis is often heralded by numbness or even loss of sensation around the mouth and lips. In case medical attention is not given promptly, respiratory failure might occur which can lead to cardiac arrest and eventually death.


A bite from a blue-ringed octopus is considered as a medical emergency. Do not wait for any symptoms to arise. The individual should be moved out of the water quickly and if possible, call for emergency assistance.

While waiting for the emergency to arrive, utilize the pressure immobilization technique.

  • Utilize an elastic bandage to cover the limb starting at the distal point and towards the body. Make sure that it is secure enough, but the extremity should not be deprived of normal circulation.
  • The affected extremity must be immobilized using a splint to avoid it from flexing at the joint.
  • The bandage must be removed for 90 minutes every 10 minutes and applied again during the initial 4-6 hours.

Remember that the length of the dangerous symptoms is usually 4-10 hours. After this period, the individual shows rapid signs of improvement.

In case the individual is having trouble breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth ventilation.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a blue-ringed octopus bite is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed by taking a standard first aid course with Victoria First Aid.

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