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Girl unknowingly takes home deadly blue ringed octopus

Ally Foster, December 6, 2018 7:10PM news.com.au

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A blue ringed octopus media_cameraA blue ringed octopus

safe kids

Reading level: green

Surf lifesavers have warned kids to beware deadly marine animals hiding in seashells after a girl unknowingly took home a blue ringed octopus.

After a day of playing on Coogee beach, south of Perth, Western Australia, the girl collected some shells to take home.

As her aunt was washing them she discovered a small blue ringed octopus was hiding in one of the shells.

Coogee Beach WA Surf Life Saving Club uploaded photos of the dangerous creature to social media platform Facebook as a warning to help keep kids safe at the beach.

A blue ringed octopus swimming in Victoria. Picture: Dr Mark Norman/Museum Victoria. media_cameraA blue ringed octopus swimming in Victoria. Picture: Dr Mark Norman/Museum Victoria.

“A young girl was at the beach this morning in front of our club building sandcastles and collecting shells,” the post read.

“Lucky her Aunty was cleaning the stash* of shells when they got home as this critter* emerged.

“They look beautiful … but a bite can be deadly.”

There are several blue ringed octopus species. They are highly venomous* and are usually found in rock pools and coral reefs right around the Australian coast.

This octopus was found in a child’s Croc shoe at Elwood beach, Victoria. media_cameraThis octopus was found in a child’s Croc shoe at Elwood beach, Victoria.

They can change shape to wriggle into gaps between or cracks in rocks.

The octopus gets its name for its circular, iridescent* blue markings, which are usually only displayed when the animal feels threatened and is about to release its poison.

If the octopus is relaxed, it is a beige or pale brown colour.

Full-size octopuses are about as big as an adult’s hand, but they can be as small as a fingernail when they are younger.

Marine biologist Dr David Baxter is holding a tiny blue ringed octopus in a shell. You can see how small it is compared to his thumbnail and that it doesn’t have its blue rings showing. If you see one, don’t pick it up like Dr Baxter did. media_cameraMarine biologist Dr David Baxter is holding a tiny blue ringed octopus in a shell. You can see how small it is compared to his thumbnail and that it doesn’t have its blue rings showing. If you see one, don’t pick it up like Dr Baxter did.

For your safety and the safety of marine creatures, don’t touch any marine creatures!

To avoid being bitten by an octopus that’s hidden, don’t poke your hand or foot into rock pools, cracks in rocks and don’t poke your fingers into sea shells.

According to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the chemical the octopus releases, which is called tetrodotoxin, aims to paralyse* its target.

Though they are very common on Australian beaches, only two people are known to have died from their bite, one in 1954 in Darwin and the other in 1967 in Sydney.

A blue ringed octopus bite may not hurt, though there may be a spot of blood. As the toxin* spreads through the body, the lips and tongue may feel numb, then breathing could become difficult.

WHAT TO DO IF BITTEN

  1. Tell an adult
  2. Call 000  (triple zero) immediately
  3. Press on the bite area or wrap a bandage or clothing firmly around the bite area. This is called a compression bandage.
  4. Proceed with CPR* if necessary

VIDEO: This news report is from South Australia from March this year. Blue ringed octopuses aren’t only found at the beach. They live in coastal lakes and waterways too

EXTRA READING

Beach safety

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Snake season arrives

Giant jellyfish washes up on beach


GLOSSARY

  • stash: collection
  • critter: animal, creature
  • venomous: poisonous
  • iridescent: luminous, bright, glowing colours
  • paralyse: cause a person or animal to be unable to move
  • toxin: poison
  • CPR: chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth; stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation


LISTEN TO THIS STORY

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What was the octopus hiding in?
  2. Where in Australia are they found?
  3. How big are they?
  4. Are they always brightly coloured?
  5. What do you do if you think you’ve been bitten?


CLASSROOM ACTIVITY
1. For your safety and the safety of marine creatures, don’t touch any marine creatures!

Draw up a two-column chart. On one side list how handling sea creatures could be DANGEROUS TO YOU and on the other side how it could be DANGEROUS TO MARINE CREATURES.

Think about all types or marine animals not just octopuses.

Create a catchy phrase that can be advertised to remind people to leave all sea life alone. For example, Don’t be a fool — leave them in the rock pool! Their life should NOT be in your hands!

Time: Allow 20 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Health and Physical Education, Science

2. Extension
Imagine you were the blue ringed octopus in this story. Retell the events in this article from the octopus’ perspective. You could be the octopus sharing his/her experience at the dinner table or you could write an article for the Marine Times or the Seashore Sun the biggest selling newspapers on the coast.

Time: Allow 40 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Critical and Creative thinking, Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many wow words or ambitious pieces of vocabulary that you can find in yellow. Discuss the meanings of these words and see if you can use them orally in another sentence.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you ever seen a blue ringed octopus, a snake or other dangerous creature? What happened? How did everyone stay safe?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences.

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