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Teen almost dies after collecting shell hiding one of the most toxic animals on Earth

Emily Brown

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Teen almost dies after collecting shell hiding one of the most toxic animals on Earth

Featured Image Credit: 7NewsPerth

An 18-year-old boy is lucky to be alive after being bitten by one of the most toxic animals on Earth as it hid inside a shell on a beach.

Lots of people like collecting shells from beaches to commemorate vacations or special moments, and most of the time all you have to worry about is avoiding slimy seaweed or leftover trash.

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However, Australian teen Jacob Eggington had no idea he was about to come across something much deadlier when combing the coast for shells at Shoalwater, Perth.

After spotting one eye-catching shell in the water, Eggington scooped it up and put it in his pocket, ready to show it to his six-year-old niece.

He went to approach his niece with the discovery, but it was at that point that Eggington noticed a deadly blue-ringed octopus; a small creature which, when alarmed, produces the toxic substance tetrodotoxin, which stops muscles from being able to contract and can have deadly consequences.

Blue-ringed octopi are rarely more than 12cm long. Credit: 7News
Blue-ringed octopi are rarely more than 12cm long. Credit: 7News
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Eggington quickly alerted his family to the creature, with his brother, Joshua, telling 7 News Perth: "As soon as he saw the octopus, he yelled really loud. I grabbed the baby."

If Eggington hadn't spotted the octopus when he did, his unsuspecting young niece could have ended up holding it.

"That’s one of the more traumatic thoughts, of what could have happened," Joshua said.

Eggington then inspected his leg and noticed a small, painless bite from the creature.

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Without treatment, the toxin can be deadly in as little as 30 minutes. However, the effects can also have a delayed onset, meaning death could occur as long as 24 hours after the toxin enters the body.

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The teenager had to be stretchered off the beach by paramedics and taken to Rockingham General Hospital, where he was treated for more than six hours.

Thankfully, Eggington's quick recognition of the blue-ringed octopus helped to save his life.

Jacob Eggington had to be rushed to hospital after the bite. Credit: 7News
Jacob Eggington had to be rushed to hospital after the bite. Credit: 7News

Jennifer Verduin, a marine scientist, has warned that the blue-ringed octopus is very common at Perth beaches, so much so that she herself never enters the water without a pair of reef shoes.

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“They’re very good at hiding so we wouldn’t normally see them often — but they are there,” she told 7 News.

The creatures are 'rarely more than 12cm long' and are usually well camouflaged, with their recognizable blue rings only appearing when they're irritated or disturbed.

If someone is stung by the creature, medics advise trying to keep them as still as possible and calling the emergency services immediately.

Topics: News, Animals, Health, Australia, World News

Emily Brown
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