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Blue Ring Octopus

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The Blue Ring Octopus, Hapalochlaena lunulata, is the most venomous octopus. This small mollusk lives in warm, shallow reefs off the coast of Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It has a life span of about 1 1/2 years.

Anatomy: The Blue Ring Octopus has distinctive blue rings on its body and on its eight arms. It is only about 8 in (20 cm) with the tentacles spread wide. Like all octopuses, if an arm is lost, it can be regenerated.

Diet: The Blue Ring Octopus hunts during the day. It eats invertebrates and wounded fish. It hides in the reef, then catches prey with its arms, bites it with its tough beak, and kills it by delivering a poison in the saliva. The poison is a neurotoxin (maculotoxin) that is strong enough to kill a human being.

Protection: The Blue Ring Octopus also defends itself using its poisons. Like other octopuses, it lives in dens, spaces under rocks, crevices on the sea floor, or holes it digs under large rocks. It piles rocks to block the front of its den. The den protects the octopus from predators (like moray eels) and provides a place to lay eggs and care for them (a mother octopus doesn't eat during the entire 1 to 2 months she is caring for her eggs). In order to escape predators, an octopus can squirt black ink into the water, allowing the octopus to escape. The octopus swims by spewing water from its body, a type of jet propulsion.

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