Dumb question: is Octopus maculosa's toxin soluble in water?

Discussion in 'Physiology and Biology' started by Audrey, Apr 3, 2003.

  1. Audrey

    Audrey Larval Mass Registered

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    I lead general intertidal marine invetebrate surveys in Victoria, Australia, so I often encounter the blue-ringed octopus. They're beautiful animals and our standard drill is to empty all the vials out of a bucket, catch octopus in sieve, transfer to bucket and observe for a few minutes before releasing the animal back where it was found. I then rinse off the sieve and bucket in the nearest rockpool, but I always wonder if that's sufficient to remove any toxin the octopus may have released on it. Does anyone know? I've never suffered any effects but you can't be too cautious!

    Actually, does O. maculosa ink? I've never seen one ink when I think about it.

    And a different animal entirely: last week I met a gorgeous Octopus maorum. I managed to grab a tentacle and hold it up so other people could see its characteristic orange colour (not the first time I've arm-wrestled O. maorum!) but I wonder how much damage it could do if it decided to bite me? The arms were about 80 cm long so it's not a small octopus.

    Thanks for any comments!

    Audrey
     
  2. Colin

    Colin Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Hi Audrey, Welcome to TONMO

    RE- blue ring venom

    Personal correspondence with Dr Roy Caldwell who is well known for his Blue Ring work, has mentioned on several ocassions that people have felt the effects of venom in the water after the animal has died however I am unsure as to whether this could happen with live animals. I am unsure as to their inking capabilities as I have only limeted experience with a single H lunulata and that never inked in the aquarium.

    Also, Steve may correct me :P But i think that O. maorum is now called pinnoctopus cordiformis.

    I will shoot an email off to Roy to see if he can add anything :)

    Cheers
    C
     
  3. Colin

    Colin Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Hi Audrey, Roy gave me a very quick response to the questions!

    Thanks again Roy!

    Roy said.....

    Colin,

    1. In my experience working with H. lunulata, the venom (TTX) does not seem to persist on surfaces and must be quite soluble. The only time I have experience any effects from the venom was when I immersed my bare hands in water where an animal had recently died (shipping water). I have had no problems working with live animals even in very small observation aquaria where the animals had killed prey.

    2. This brings up the question of whether blue-rings release venom into the water to kill prey. This was suggested once in print and was depicted in one film, but in my mind has not been proved. I have tried to replicate these observations in H. lunulata without success and I know one researcher who could not get a similar result in H. maculosa. Perhaps H. fasciatus is different, but I'll have to see it to believe it.

    3. The dogma is that blue-rings do not ink. However, hatchlings can and do. Under severe stress inducing violent mantle contractions, adults will occasionally release a small, defuse puff of ink, but it does not seem represent any adaptive tactic.

    4. I've not been bitten by O. maorum, but I have by O. cyanea and they can ripe a pretty nasty bite with enough salivary venom to cause a bee sting like reaction.

    Hope this helps.

    Roy
     
  4. perke

    perke O. bimaculoides Registered

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    I believe your right in calling it pinnoctopus cordiformis. As for its bite I've never been bitten by one but in my experience (we keep them in our public aquarium) there more afraid of you than you are of them (correct me if I'm wrong Jean). There definetly not as agressive as say Octopus huttoni (used to be robsenella australis) which will bite, ink or squirt water any chance they get :twisted: .

    In comparison I know someone who was bitten by a giant pacific octopus she had a relatively impressive scar on her finger. My advice to you is if your hand starts moving towards the centre of their arms and therefore there mouth let go or if you can't, try and remove the octopus from oneself. Hope this helps
     
  5. Audrey

    Audrey Larval Mass Registered

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    Thanks for the responses - most useful. I'll keep doing what I've always done.

    Does anyone have a reference or reason for the new name of Octopus maorum? I've been doing a massive project on synonyms and name changes in gastropods recently and probably will move on to the few intertidal victorian ceph species soon, once I get the slugs out of the way.

    And I thought H. maculosa had changed to Octopus maculosa sometime in the last decade?

    Thanks!

    Audrey
    (I hate name changes!)
     
  6. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Hi Audrey. I'm actually the chap responsible for this latest name change. It had to be done because there were two species names out there that applied to the same animal - the older of the two names, Pinnoctopus cordiformis, is that which we must use.

    It has a rather colourful history, having had 13 different names (or combinations of names) since 1832 (when the first specimen was described).

    You'll find a detailed synonymy for Pinnoctopus cordiformis and Octopus huttoni (what you would probably refer to as Octopus warringa - the name no longer applies - this species has had 10 different names, or combinations of them) in:

    O'Shea, S. 1999. The marine fauna of New Zealand: Octopoda (Mollusca: Cephalopoda). NIWA Biodiversity Memoir 112: 280 pp (the series formerly called the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute memoirs).

    I haven't any spare copies I'm afraid.
    Kindest
    Steve
     
  7. Colin

    Colin Colossal Squid Supporter

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    hi again

    re - Hapalochlena maculosa

    The most recent books i have with this genus is mark normans world guide and the genus is used there not octopus. I think its the other way round i think they used to be called Octopus but then changed to Hapalochlaena
     
  8. Audrey

    Audrey Larval Mass Registered

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    I should have no trouble finding that in the museum here, there's several ceph people working there (Melbourne Museum). Alas, they don't have much to do with the volunteers like me.

    It's nice to have some idea (from this site) of what's in those intriguing giant sealed plastic containers in the wet collection!

    Thanks for the reference!

    Oh, is this species native to both sides of the Tasman? Does it have pelargic larvae? There are a number of foreigners from NZ in our waters.

    Audrey
     
  9. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Audrey, you can always jump on a plane, cross the ditch and work over here. We like volunteers :D , but more important than that, we desperately need people interested in studying our deep-sea fauna, whether cephalopodan or not.

    Pinnoctopus cordiformis is a rather interesting species; I have so few of its larvae (whereas I have numerous octopus larvae that can be attributed to other species). I am not so sure whether this species (and Octopus huttoni) larvae make the voyage between NZ and Australia (or, more likely, Australia and New Zealand, given oceanographic patterns); the present-day distribution could be relictual rather than one of constant trans-Tasman larval replenishment.

    Kindest
    Steve
     

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