Marine Stings – Blue Ringed Octopus and Cone Shell

Marine Stings

The venom and method in which a sea creature poisons its victim varies widely. Therefore, the way in which we treat marine stings is dependent on the type of creature and its method of envenomation.

Blue Ringed Octopus and Cone Shell

Blue-ringed octopuses inhabit all Australian coastal waters and are often found in tidal pools.  If handled, these small animals can inflict a potentially fatal bite, injecting venom stored in salivary glands.

Many species of cone shell are found in tropical waters. They fire a dart like barb to deliver venom when handled.

Although different, venoms from both these creatures can cause paralysis and death from respiratory failure within 30 minutes.

Recognition

Symptoms and signs may include:

  • A painless bite: a spot of blood visible
  • Numbness of the lips and tongue
  • The progressive weakness of muscles and respiration leading to an inadequate or cessation of breathing.

Management

  • D.R.S.A.B.C.D. and call 000 for an ambulance.
  • Keep the victim at rest, reassured and under constant observation.
  • Use the Pressure Immobilisation Technique
  • Transport the victim to a medical facility, preferably by ambulance.

NOTE: Despite being unable to move, the victim may be able to hear you speaking to them, so always reassure the casualty.