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American tourist and TikTok star nearly dies from blue-ringed octopus in Bali, Indonesia

Tourist holds a beautiful octopus in her hand while on a beach trip in Bali without knowing just how close she is to being KILLED by the highly venomous animal

  • A woman studying overseas handled a deadly octopus while swimming 
  • The US citizen was in Bali, Indonesia, when she held the blue-ringed octopus 
  • A bite from a blue-ringed octopus is painless but can kill a human in minutes  

An American tourist unknowingly had a close call with death when she held a highly-venomous octopus in her hand while on a study trip overseas. 

Kaylin Phillips, who is based in the US state of Virginia, picked up the blue-ringed octopus on a beach while she was attending university in Bali. 

The creature, one of the most deadliest in the ocean, can kill a human within minutes with its venom causing respiratory arrest.

Kaylin Phillips (pictured) unknowingly held a highly venomous octopus while in Bali, Indonesia

Ms Phillips said she only realised the animal was lethal when she put the video on Instagram before researching the cute cephalopod.   

The then-student was helping film a documentary about animal welfare while in Indonesia. 

‘While we were there, we saw really interesting wildlife,’ Ms Phillips said in a TikTok video.

‘I remember when we saw this little guy swim up, we picked him up. There were about three of us passing him around and we didn’t think anything of it.

‘We actually saw another one similar, picked that one up as well,’ she said of the incident which occurred three years ago.  

A blue-ringed octopus’ venom contains neurotoxin tetrodotoxin, which can paralyse a human in minutes by stopping them from taking in enough oxygen.

The bites are painless but fatal, causing paralysis in about 10 minutes. 

A victim can also experience excessive bleeding, nausea, vomiting, changes in vision and difficulty swallowing.

There is no anti-venom and resuscitation efforts consist of trying to get air into a patient’s lungs through a tube or mask. 

The then-student did not realise the blue-ringed octopus was highly venomous

The then-student did not realise the blue-ringed octopus was highly venomous

 

Because of its distinctive markings, the octopus can be deceptive, Museums Victoria said. 

‘These tiny critters are some of the ocean’s most distinctive and venomous inhabitants,’ the website stated. 

‘Despite having formidable reputations and being incredibly common in coastal waters, blue-ringed octopuses are rarely encountered. They are the ocean’s recluses.’   

The marine creatures often hide in crevices and shells and when threatened, they become covered with bright blue rings to warn predators.  

​The blue-ringed octopus has a painless bite but it can cause paralysis in just 10 minutes

​The blue-ringed octopus has a painless bite but it can cause paralysis in just 10 minutes

The species is often found in waters on the Australian coastline. 

A father spotted the deadly creature at a rockpool in Edward’s Bay near Balmoral Beach on Sydney’s north shore earlier this year.

Robin Dempster and his son were exploring when they saw a distinctive flash of colour and the octopus appeared from under a rock.

‘It put on quite a show for us. We feel very lucky to have had the experience,’ he said at the time. 

A local family discovered a blue-ringed octopus hiding in their children's shell collection on a beach in Sydney

 A local family discovered a blue-ringed octopus hiding in their children’s shell collection on a beach in Sydney 

Another parent found a blue-ringed octopus hiding in a shell his child collected in January 2021. 

Randwick City Council shared pictures of the blue-ring octopus on Facebook, after local Andrew found the creature on Yarra Bay beach during an afternoon swim with his kids.

After his children picked up a few shells from the shore line, the father noticed a peculiar sight scamper across the family’s towel.  

‘Our 11-year-old son set a couple of shells down on a beach towel my wife was sitting on and then a few moments later this little fella and another scampered across the towel,’ he said.  

A blue-ringed octopus emerged from the shells, startling the family.   

‘The funny thing is that we’d spoken recently with the kids about how the blue-ringed octopus could be found around the area and that they’re super deadly, however we never really expected to see one,’ he said. 

Blue-ringed octopus bites 

The blue-ringed octopus bite is highly venomous to humans and emergency services should be called immediately if it occurs.

Blue-ringed octopuses are not aggressive animals and most cases of bites are from a person picking up and handling the creature, or stepping on it.

It injects its toxin by biting – the venom is held in salivary glands and the mouth of the octopus in on the underneath side in the middle of the body.

Most bites cause minimal pain for the first 5-10 minutes then begin to throb and may get numb.

The bite could cause excessive bleeding, nausea, vomiting, changes in vision and difficulty swallowing.

After 10 minutes, the victim may have difficulty breathing, become paralysed, and require artificial ventilation until they can be transported to a hospital.

The duration of life-threatening symptoms is usually four to 10 hours – after that time, surviving patients typically show rapid signs of improvement.

There is no anti-venom available for blue-ringed octopus bites.

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