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AUSTRALIA — Imagine if you were at the beach and noticed a tiny octopus covered with vibrant blue rings. It might be tempting to pick up the adorable-looking creature.
A startling new video shows just that, as an unnamed tourist in Australia held a tiny writhing octopus in the palm of their hand. But, it was a blue-ringed octopus, one of the most deadly marine animals on earth. Each of the creatures carries enough venom to kill 26 humans within a matter of minutes, according to Ocean Conservancy. The octopus's deadly neurotoxin is called tetrodotoxin and is 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide, Ocean Conservancy reports.
The video footage, which shows the tourist filming the octopus in their hand and then gently shaking it until the creature plops back into the water, was uploaded to Reddit. The video's original caption written in Mandarin reportedly said, "Such a beautiful octopus."
It didn't take long for the video to attract the attention of many shocked commenters.
“This is how tourists become statistics,” one person commented.
“Do they even know how lucky they are to be alive after doing something that monumentally stupid?” another commenter wrote.
"It’s like holding death in your hand!” exclaimed another.
The unwitting tourist in the video certainly isn't the first person to mistakenly hold a blue-ringed octopus. Earlier this year, an 11-year-old girl picked one up at Australia's Cronulla Beach. That story also had a happy ending, with the girl's mother noticing the deadly creature and quickly returning it to the water before it could sting the child.
Encounters like this occur because the blue-ringed octopus is often found in shallow tide pools, where people frequently visit. The brilliant blue rings that give the octopus its name, and enchant humans, are actually a warning sign. They only appear when the creature feels threatened and wants to scare away a potential predator, Ocean Conversancy reported. If the blue rings don't accomplish that, the next step is for the octopus to administer a deadly sting.