The warning follows the national DMCR headquarters in Bangkok issuing a warning after officers were alerted to the highly dangerous octopus being sold as a cooked delicacy at a night market in Pathum Thani.
The cooked octopus was being sold alongside other seafood that had been grilled on wooden skewers.
Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, Chief of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC), which is operated by the DMCR, told The Phuket News, “People need to be very careful of this type of ocotpus, which can be easily identified by its blue rings.
“Both people cooking and selling seafood and their customers should look very carefully at any octopus before eating it. The blue-ringed octopus contains a very dangerous venom that cannot be neutralised by cooking, as the poison is heat resistant up to 200º Celsius,” he said.
“There is currently no blue-ringed octopus antivenom available,” Dr Kongkiat added.
Although quite small, roughly the size of a gold ball, the blue-ringed octopus carries enough venom to kill 26 adult humans within minutes. The process through which its victims die can be excruciating while paralysed yet fully conscious as the heart stops and suffocation begins through paralysis of the diaphragm, preventing the victim from breathing.
Although rare in local waters, the blue-ringed octopus can be found in both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.
Dr Jaruwat Nabhitabhata, research lecturer at the Excellence Centre for Biodiversity of Peninsular Thailand operated under the Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkla University, explained that the blue-ringed octopus is not aggressive.
“In contrast, the blue-ringed octopus is a peaceful animal. If one encounters a large animal like a person, it will hide in a crater of a rock and among seaweed,” he said.
“But it will appear after it is bullied and teased first. It will show its blue rings as a warning. if it feels threatened, it will respond to defend itself by biting,” he added.
Dr Jaruwat noted, “My best advice is to not disturb one if you find one in the wild. Do not handle it with bare hands and do not take it out of the water. The squid will feel threatened and will protect itself.
“Also, do not eat one, as they are poisonous, and do not keep one as a pet as it is a danger to people in the house.
“If you accidentally catch one while fishing or come across one in the wild, just leave it be,” he said.
Chief Kongkiat urged any people who see blue-ringed octopus for sale, cooked or alive, to call the PMBC at 076-391128.
“DMCR officials will go to check and explain the danger to the vendor, and take from the vendor whatever blue-ringed octopus they find as a precaution,” he said.