Overview

Distribution

Indo-Pacific. Found most commonly in the tidal rock pools along the southern coast of Australia.

(Moynihan 1985. Sea World Inc 1996. Rogerson 1998)

Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native ); indian ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

The blue-ringed octopus is a small octopus that ranges in size from 4 mm at birth to up to 20 cm in adulthood. It is dark brown to dark yellow/ tan-yellow in coloring. The most outstanding characteristic of this species is the iridescent blue rings in the eye spots. These rings are reported to "glow" when an individual is aggravated.

(Campbell 1998. Rogerson 1998. Hanlon and Messenger 1996)

Average mass: 26 g.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

coastal; highly toxic
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Most commonly found in rocky, shallow pools of water or in shallow corals. Also found under rocks in sandy or muddy stretches of bottom where alga is plentiful. Particularly common after storms when it can be found looking for crabs and bivalves.

(Moynihan 1985, Campbell 1998, Australian wildlife lectures 1998, Rogerson 1998, Park 1987)

Aquatic Biomes: coastal

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Depth range based on 35 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 5 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 55
  Temperature range (°C): 14.610 - 26.692
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.565 - 1.945
  Salinity (PPS): 35.037 - 35.479
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.657 - 5.625
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.120 - 0.276
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.983 - 1.528

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 55

Temperature range (°C): 14.610 - 26.692

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.565 - 1.945

Salinity (PPS): 35.037 - 35.479

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.657 - 5.625

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.120 - 0.276

Silicate (umol/l): 0.983 - 1.528
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Trophic Strategy

At one week of age, the blue ringed octopus will begin to eat crab pieces. As the octopus matures, it will begin to eat live crabs and bivalve mollusks. The octopus will either entice its prey into its vicinity and inject a poison into the water that will paralyze it or will inject the poison into its prey directly. It is also believed that the octopus will capture prey, forming an airtight pouch around it, and inserting the poison into the pouch, cause the prey to take the poison in through its respiratory system. The poison is a neurotoxin which causes paralysis, which is particularly fatal if the poison affects either the heart or repiratory system. To date there is no antitoxin. Generally though, humans are not considered prey to this creature and a bite from one seems to be more of a defensive response than anything else.

References: Boyle 1987. Microsoft 1993. Loadsman and Thompson 2000. Park 1987. Berry 1998.

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

The female will initiate reproduction by specific coloring and posturing. The male will then approach her to begin courtship. Courtship consists of "love play" (Wood, 1999) and caressing. The male will then use the hectocotylus, a modified arm consisting of a groove between the suckers and ending in a spoonlike tip, to deposit the sperm in the female's oviduct, which is located under the mantle. Shortly thereafter, the female will begin to lay her eggs and the brooding period will begin. Characteristic brooding of this species is for the female to carry the eggs in its arms. She will guard them for a period of fifty days, at which point they will hatch into planktonic "paralarva". Initially at birth, the octopus will be only 4 mm long. This stage of the life cycle, the young will float to the top and join the plankton for about a month. At the end of this time period they will once again return to the bottom to resume their normal life.

(Microsoft 1993. Boyle 1987. Wood 1999. Hanlon and Messenger 1996)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Hapalochlaena maculosa

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 2 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACTTTATATTTTATTTTTGGAATTTGATCAGGTTTATTAGGTACTTCTTTA---AGATTAATAATTCGAACAGAATTAGGACAACCAGGATCTTTACTTAATGAC---GATCAATTATATAATGTAATTGTCACTGCTCATGCATTTGTAATAATTTTTTTTCTAGTTATACCTGTAATAATTGGGGGTTTTGGAAATTGATTAGTTCCTTTAATA---TTAGGAGCCCCTGATATAGCATTTCCTCGAATAAATAATATAAGATTTTGATTACTTCCCCCTTCCTTAACTTTTTTACTTTCATCAGCAGCAGTAGAAAGAGGAGCTGGTACAGGATGAACAGTTTATCCTCCCTTATCTAGAAATTTAGCCCATATAGGACCATCTGTTGATTTA---GCAATTTTTTCTTTACATTTAGCAGGAATTTCCTCAATTTTAGGAGCTATTAATTTTATTACCACTATTATTAATATACGATGAGAAGGTATATTAATAGAACGACTACCTTTATTTGTTTGATCTGTATTTATTACAGCTTTTTTATTATTATTATCTTTACCTGTATTTGCAGGG---GCTATTACTATTCTTTTAACTGATCGAAATTTTAATACTACATTTTTTGATCCTAGAGGAGGAGGAGATCCTATTTTATATCAACATTTA------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TTT
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hapalochlaena maculosa

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

There was no information on conservation efforts made for the blue-ringed octopus. A problem has begun to arise surrounding the publicity of the toxicity of its venom. People have begun to over-react and kill octopuses encountered in shallow tidal pools.

(Park 1987)

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

This species is considered one of the most dangerous animals in the sea because of the toxicity of its venom. In addition, the bite of the blue-ringed octopus is not painful. Therefore, there have been reported cases where people handled one and did not realize they had been bitten until the symptons of envenomation began to occur.

(Australian Wildlife Lectures 1998, Seaworld 1996, Park 1987)

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This species lacks an ink sac and therefore has become a common addition to the marine aquarium. This is much to the dismay of many toxicologists who feel that people selling and buying them are uninformed of the true danger they pose. This species also is used for its venom. One of Australia's major industries is its venom industry, in which the blue-ringed octopus plays a valuable role.

 In addition this species has come under study to provide information on the mantle and the microscopic protrusions on the mantle of cephalopods.

(Hanlon and Messenger 1996. Parks 1987. Wood 1999)

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Wikipedia

Southern blue-ringed octopus

The southern blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa) is one of three (or perhaps four) species of blue-ringed octopuses. It is most commonly found in tidal rock pools along the south coast of Australia. As an adult, it can grow up to 20 centimetres (8 in) long (top of the mantle to the tip of the arms) and on average weighs 26 grams (0.9 oz). They are normally a docile species, but they are highly venomous possessing venom capable of killing humans. Their blue rings appear with greater intensity when they become aggravated or threatened.[citation needed]

References[edit]

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