The Blue-Ringed Octopus

The underwater photographer finally saw it, a blue-ringed octopus! It is considered by some photographers and naturalists to be the top subject on the “holy grail critter list” for underwater photography. Evidently, the photographer got too close and the octopus felt threatened. Suddenly, it darted out and bit the man. Immediately, the man surfaced and shouted for help and confessed what had happened. Fortunately, the boat was nearby and not far from shore. By the time he was pulled aboard, the injured man started feeling the paralyzing effects of the bite of the blue-ringed octopus, the only lethal octopus known to man.

The blue-ringed octopus is a small animal about the size of the palm of your hand. It inhabits the waters around the islands of Southeast Asia, including Australia. It has eight arms with dual rows of suction cups, a large head, and two big eyes. It has circular markings on its body that flash as bright iridescent blue rings when it perceives that it is in danger. It also has a potent toxin in its saliva known as Tetrodotoxin which it uses in self-defense. This venom completely paralyzes its victim so that it cannot move, speak, or even breathe, so it suffocates. One reporter explained, “You hear the doctor pronounce that you’re dead and there is nothing you can do to tell him you’re still alive!”

There is no antidote to the venom of the blue-ringed octopus. In approximately ten minutes a fully-grown human being will be paralyzed. However, if the victim can be placed on a respirator and receive ongoing respiratory treatment, he can survive long enough for the paralysis to subside. Generally those debilitating effects wear off in about 24 hours with no residual, long-term issues.

The partner on the boat pulled the diver in and as he raced the boat toward the dock, he called 911 and explained the situation. By the time he docked the boat, the diver had stopped breathing. Immediately, he started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, literally breathing life-giving air into the man’s lungs. After several long minutes the ambulance arrived and the EMTs took over. Once inside the ambulance, the man was placed on a respirator and rushed to the hospital. He was placed in ICU in critical condition. His outcome was uncertain but at least with the respirator, he had a chance.

Late the next day he started to breathe on his own, although the respirator was still his primary source of oxygen. He was able to move, first his arms and hands, and then his legs and feet. Sometime during the second night, the respirator was removed and the next day he was taken out of ICU and placed on a floor. That evening he was dismissed from the hospital and was expected to recover completely. However, he has not recovered an interest in photographing a blue-ringed octopus.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins….” The venom that comes from sin has made us all spiritually dead. We will never make it to heaven’s shore on our own. We are too paralyzed. Without help from above we will die in our sins. But when we call out to the Lord for help, He rescues us. He knows the seriousness of our condition. He pulls us from the worldly ocean and into His life-boat. He gives us mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (cf. John 20:22) and we are kept alive by the life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit. Although there is no known antidote for the toxin of the blue-ringed octopus, there is one, and only one, antidote for sin and spiritual death. The only hope we have for salvation from our sins and eternal life is Jesus Christ. Call out to Him today.

– Henry Hazard