While on vacation, a woman was enjoying the sights when she spotted a cute little creature and decided to pick it up for a photo. What she didn’t realize was that the tiny animal she was holding was deadly enough to kill 26 grown men.
When Kaylin Phillips arrived in Indonesia, she planned on enjoying the sand, sun, and cultural delights, as most tourists do. However, along with scouting out the ancient ruins and five-star restaurants, the young woman discovered she should have also researched the area’s dangerous wildlife.
Phillips was basking on a sandy beach in Bali when she spotted a tiny sea creature wriggling in the surf. Deceived by the animal’s size, she picked up and cupped in her hands what appeared to be a miniature octopus. Little did she know that the charming cephalopod was one of the most dangerous animals on earth.
The tiny tentacled creature Phillips was holding in her bare hands was the notorious blue-ringed octopus, renowned for its ability to kill more than 2 dozen humans with a single bite of its microscopic mouth. Completely unaware as to the danger, Phillips had a friend take pictures and record her holding the deadly octopus, switching the animal from hand to hand as another friend pours water over it, The Sun reports.
It’s unclear how long Phillips held the creature, but she certainly regretted her photo op once she discovered just how close to death she came. After looking up the creature on the internet, Phillips realized that one bite from the octopus could have proved fatal.
Despite only growing up to 8 inches, the blue-ringed octopus is one of the deadliest animals in the world. Just one of these creatures carries enough tetrodotoxin to kill 26 full-grown adults. This neurotoxin is most dangerous when transferred directly through a bite but can also be secreted through mucous on the animal’s tentacles, which is less lethal.
Within minutes, victims become paralyzed as the fast-acting venom moves throughout the body. Eventually, the respiratory system begins to shut down and the victim goes into cardiac arrest. It’s possible to survive a blue-ringed octopus bite if you receive immediate medical treatment, which requires intubation and oxygen from a ventilator as soon as possible. Those who survive the first 24 hours after sustaining a bite usually fully recover.
Phillips is fortunate that the octopus didn’t feel threatened enough to attack, or else she might have been bitten. Of course, some bites aren’t even painful at first, leaving the victim even less time to realize they need emergency medical treatment. Incredibly, Phillips didn’t even suffer skin irritation from the creature’s mucosal lining.
Luckily, there have been few reported deaths from the blue-ringed octopus in several decades. Typically, the mini-octopus would rather flee than attack when threatened. However, if the animal feels pursued, it may attempt to bite in self-defense, leaving its victim in a race against time to survive its deadly toxin.
Phillips learned a valuable lesson she will likely take with her on her next tourist trip. Although planning out which attractions to attend is a given, having awareness and respect for your surroundings is just as important.
Just as one should know which areas are dangerous to foreign visitors, tourists should have a basic knowledge of the landscape, including the presence of deadly flora and fauna. Thankfully for Phillips, she will get a second chance to plan accordingly.