Main Menu
Join Undercurrent on Facebook

The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975 | |
For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
Join Undercurrent on Facebook
"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes
February 2001 Vol. 16, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
What's this?

Those biting octopuses

from the February, 2001 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In September, we noted that a bite from the South Pacifics Blue Ring Octopus is deadly. That prompted reader Samuel Johnson to ask, Do the octopuses that I encounter in the Caribbean bite, if given the opportunity? Ive had friends report allowing octopuses to wander over and sit on and explore their bare hands. Is there any reason not to do this, either for my own health and safety or that of the octopus?

Yes, indeed there is. All octopuses are equipped with a beak-like mouth and powerful jaw muscles. They seize prey with their arms, and use the beak to bite while injecting a venom to paralyze the victim. So, just about any octopus large enough to be noticed by a diver is also capable of biting. How severe that bite might be depends on the size of the octopus and where it bites you. A large octopus biting with full force on lightly or unprotected flesh could inflict some real damage.

Five species of octopus live in the Caribbean at depths frequented by divers; the largest approaches 7 feet in armspread. While there is no indication of anything comparable to the danger posed by the Indo-Pacific blue-ringed octopus (whose bite can be fatal within 20 minutes), one cannot rule out the possibility of a bad reaction in some individuals, given injection of sufficient quantities of these poisons in their blood.

As to the possible negative effects on the octopus health from being handled by divers, such encounters, no matter how benign the activity may appear, have the capacity to cause stress, alter behavior, disorient animals, and possibly cause infections. Wild marine animals deserve the same respect as do their wild terrestrial cousins. Look, but dont touch.

I want to get all the stories! Tell me how I can become an Undercurrent Online Member and get online access to all the articles of Undercurrent as well as thousands of first hand reports on dive operations world-wide



NEW! Find in  

| Home | Online Members Area | My Account |
| Travel Index | Dive Gear Index | Health/Safety Index | Environment & Misc. Index | Seasonal Planner | Forums | Blogs | Free Articles | Book Picks | News |
| Dive Resort & Liveaboard Reviews | Featured Reports | Recent Issues | Back Issues | Login | Join | Special Offers | RSS | FAQ | About Us | Contact Us | Links |


Copyright © 1996-2016 Undercurrent (www.undercurrent.org)
3020 Bridgeway, Ste 102, Sausalito, Ca 94965
All rights reserved.

cd