#CreatureFeature – Hapalochlaena maculosa (Southern Blue Ringed Octopus)

The word octopus originates from the word Octopoda, meaning ‘eight-footed’.

The octopus falls into the phylum Mollusca and making it related to the squid and cuttlefish.

These cephalopod invertebrates (animals without back bones) are the most advanced of their kind, with a well-developed brain and eye structure. Western Australia is home to several different species of blue ringed octopuses, including the southern blue ringed octopus.

This species usually grow to about 12 centimeters long and are masters of camouflage, thanks to their yellow, brown and grey bodies. The octopus is known to deliver a warning before they bite, developing brilliant blue rings when aggravated or disturbed. They are extremely venomous and dangerous and should only ever be admired from a safe distance!

Blue ringed octopus usually occupy reef flats and tidal pools, where they hide in dead shells, rocks, crevices and discarded cans or bottles. They can be found in all of WA’s marine parks but are hardly sighted due to their crafty camouflage skills.

This octopus feeds mostly at night on fish and crustaceans, killing their prey with a deadly toxin that is injected with their bite.

The female blue ringed octopus will lay eggs and carry them under her arms for about six months, before they hatch and the female dies.

Source: https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/marine/marine-parks-wa/fun-facts/405-blue-ringed-octopus

Jarna Kendle – Bushcare Officer

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