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Have you seen a Blue Ringed Octopus in Lake Macquarie?

Australia. Land of the brave. No wonder the Bee Gees wrote ‘Stayin Alive’ with so many of the world’s most venomous creatures living at our front door! We’ve had lots of reports of people right here in Lake Macquarie seeing Blue Ringed Octopus. Have you seen a Blue Ringed Octopus in Lake Macquarie? Known as being very common around our lake and at our beaches here’s some information about them and what you need to know if someone gets bitten.

Size of a golf ball

Blue Ringed Octopus is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, growing up to 10cm in length. But this is one creature you don’t want to hold. With a venomous bite that can kill up to 26 adults, you want to make sure you’re not popping this one in a bucket for the kids to see. If you see one, leave it alone.

Experts at hiding

Due to its small size, the Blue Ringed Octopus is great at hiding in places where little fingers may go. Behind a rock in a rock pool. Between two shells. In a small rocky hollow. In a bottle or can that has been left on the sand and ended up underwater. Their brown and yellow body camouflages against their background making them difficult to see.


Blue Ringed Octopus would prefer not to come into contact with humans. They will hide in crevices, able to contort their bodies into different shapes to fit in places they find. To move around the ocean or lake, the Blue Ringed Octopus fills its body with water and then squirts the water out to create jet propulsion. Sounds like a good way to travel!

Flashing blue

The Blue Ringed Octopus only shows its rings once it is defending itself. Their colour changes to bright yellow with the many rings flashing a bright blue. If you come into contact with this octopus by mistake you might not even know. Its bite is tiny and painless and that’s why many people don’t realise they have been bitten. Make sure you are wearing reef shoes when you go in the water to stop you from standing on one and being bitten.

Effects of a bite

So, how do you know if you’ve been bitten? The common effects of a Blue Ringed Octopus bite are paralysis and respiratory distress. You can also experience blindness, nausea, and heart failure. While the venom causes paralysis, you don’t typically lose consciousness. This can be terrifying as you are unable to breathe but know what is happening. 

You may see a little mark on your skin where the octopus has bitten you. Blue Ringed Octopus has been known to have killed at least 3 people. Two of these were right here in Australia. However, many more people have come close to death.

Give CPR if necessary

If you have been bitten by a Blue Ringed Octopus call 000 for emergency medical attention. Make sure you apply strong pressure to the wound. Death occurs as the diaphragm is paralysed resulting in a lack of oxygen and the person stops breathing. If CPR is given most people survive. 

Once you are taken to the hospital, if you are unable to breathe you will be placed on a respirator. This will breathe for you until the effects of the venom leave your body.

Make sure you have the Australia Red Cross First Aid app on your phone. This will help remind you what to do in an emergency while you are waiting for paramedics. Find the app here 50 ways to do more good | Australian Red Cross

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