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This is an extreme example of why you should never touch wildlife.
Earlier this week, a video surfaced of a tourist in Australia holding an adorable — and utterly lethal — blue-ringed octopus. According to Gizmodo, the video was captioned with, “What a pretty octopus,” in Mandarin and initially posted to TikTok, before later appearing on Reddit (as viral videos so often do).
Here, Australian Redditors identified the venomous creature which, despite its diminutive size, contains enough venom to kill more than two dozen people. Yeah, “pretty.”
This tourist, frankly, is lucky to be alive. The golf ball-sized octopus has venom more powerful than cyanide, according to Ocean Conservancy, and delivers a tiny, sometimes painless bite. Because of this, victims often don’t even realize they’ve been bitten until symptoms set in (numbness, paralysis and, ultimately, respiratory failure). And there’s no anti-venom for one of these bites, as attacks are exceptionally rare. The blue-ringed octopus is shy and only known to bite if provoked or, well, picked up by tourists behaving badly.
This incident comes just weeks after an 11-year-old girl accidentally picked up a blue-ringed octopus hiding in a shell at a beach in Sydney, and another young girl collected two of the cephalopods near Perth, thinking they were shells. Luckily, they were both unharmed.
And earlier this month, more than a dozen Australian beaches were closed due to a so-called “jellyfish invasion” that resulted in 3,500 jellyfish stings in just one weekend.
Travelers should by no means be afraid of visiting Australia’s beaches. But it’s wise to exercise caution and be extremely aware of your surroundings, for both your safety and the welfare of the wildlife. Because just as tourists can be harmed during accidental animal encounters, it’s just as common (if not more so) for people to harm animals.
So, if you spot a pretty animal and think it should star in a viral video, please reconsider.
Featured image of a blue-ringed octopus via Shutterstock.
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