UK backpacker speaks out after narrowly avoiding death by a blue-ringed octopus

A British backpacker downunder who diced with death by placing a blue-ringed octopus on his arm has spoken out about the potentially fatal moment.

Three friends caught the blue-ringed octopus while fishing in Queensland, Australia. 

Unaware of its deadly poison, UK man Ross Saunders encouraged his friend to get a picture of the octopus on his bare arm before uploading a video of the incident to Facebook on Saturday. The video now has almost 26,000 views.

"We didn't realise what kind of octopus it was," Saunders said in an interview with 7News on Sunday.

"He wanted a picture of the octopus on his arm so he could put it on Facebook with all the other pictures we got."

Saunders said they showed the photos to a friend after the fishing trip, who told them it was a dangerous species.

The blue-ringed octopus carries enough venom to kill 26 humans in minutes. Their bites are small and often painless, meaning their victims often don't realise they're in danger until they start struggling to breathe.

There is no anti-venom available for their bite although it can be treated if caught in time.

After Googling the creature, the tourists realised the severity of their mistake.

"It took a while to sink in, what actually happened," says Saunders.

"Even when he said it was dangerous, we didn't actually realise how dangerous it was. We were kind of joking around, until we Googled it and realised what it was."

Saunders' friend, from Ireland, told 7News he asked the group if the octopus was dangerous before handling it - but no one knew.

"I was asking everybody was it dangerous, and everybody told me no," he said. "It's been on my mind constantly, like what could've happened."

The tourist says he was under the impression it was a baby, and was shocked to discover the octopus he handled was fully grown.

"They don't grow any bigger than [that]," he said. "It was just lucky I didn't keep it on my arm."

Incredulous social media users have commented on the interview, expressing their dismay at their naivety.

"Now go get a pic with an eastern brown snake, then put a funnel web spider on your arm, they won't hurt you just ask your mates," one person commented.

Saunders clarified in a Facebook post on Sunday that the trio released the octopus from the hook and put it back in the water, still alive.

"Thankfully no one was hurt and we can laugh about how close to death and stupid we were," he wrote.

"Lesson learnt, don't f*** with the wildlife in Australia."


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