Sam's Club: No venomous blue-ringed octopuses found

Writer:   |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-01-19

Sam’s Club said yesterday that no blue-ringed octopuses were found during its suppliers’ seafood selection and product processing, DT News reported.

The statement was in response to a Shenzhen netizen’s claim that his family members found a blue-ringed octopus among small frozen octopuses they bought at the Futian outlet of the global membership warehouse club. The claim came a day after an unidentified consumer posted a photo of an octopus, which was later confirmed to be a venomous blue-ringed octopus.

The unidentified consumer went to a hotpot restaurant for dinner and wanted to eat small octopus, China Daily reported. He saw that one octopus looked a little bit different.

He suspected that it was a venomous blue-ringed octopus and then took a photo and posted it on social media for confirmation.

After inquiring online, his suspicion was immediately confirmed by the official account of Nature History, a Chinese science magazine, that it was a blue-ringed octopus.

The two incidents took the internet by storm, prompting Sam’s Club to swiftly launch an investigation into the Shenzhen netizen’s claim.

“After learning about the relevant remarks posted by the netizen on Weibo, we checked again with our suppliers. The raw materials of the product were confirmed to be from Chinese waters, and the processing covered the screening of the blue-ringed octopuses,” the retailer said. “At the same time, the local market supervision department also went to inspect the Futian store the netizen mentioned and found no abnormalities. To date, we have never received similar feedback from other members.”

Sam’s Club also provided assurances from its two suppliers, saying that “the frozen octopuses produced by the companies are strictly screened in each process to ensure that there are no blue-ringed octopuses.”

The blue-ringed octopus is one of the world’s most venomous marine animals. The small octopuses are common in tropical and subtropical coral reefs and tide pools of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, ranging from southern Japan to Australia. They eat small crustaceans, including crabs, hermit crabs, shrimp and other small sea animals.

They can be identified by their yellowish skin and characteristic blue and black rings that change color dramatically when the animal is threatened.

Blue-ringed octopuses spend most of their time hiding in crevices while displaying effective camouflage patterns with their dermal chromatophore cells. If they are provoked, they quickly change color, becoming bright yellow with each of the 50-60 rings flashing bright iridescent blue within a third of a second as defensive warning display.

The blue-ringed octopus, despite its small size, carries enough venom to kill 26 adult humans within minutes. Currently, no blue-ringed octopus antivenom is available.

The major neurotoxin component of the blue-ringed octopus is a compound that was originally known as maculotoxin but was later found to be identical to tetrodotoxin or the toxin found in puffer fish.

The toxin is 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide but is metabolized and excreted within a few hours. The venom is produced by symbiotic bacteria in the animal’s salivary glands and is more toxic than that of any land mammals.

Fortunately, the blue-ringed octopus isn’t aggressive. Encounters with this reclusive creature are rare, but people have been stung after handling or accidentally stepping on a blue-ringed octopus. A sting leaves a tiny mark and may be painless, so it’s possible to be unaware of the danger until respiratory distress and paralysis occur.

If you ever encounter this creature, back away as fast as you can, the China Daily report said. In fact, there have been no known deaths from its sting since the 1960s. As long as you keep your hands to yourself, you should be fine.