OMG, picture of a bluering on someone's finger...

Thales

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An importer wrote this in the Industry forum on RDO:

I have seen many blue rings handled with no problems. I myself have handled them and feel that there is very little risk involved with them. I have had much more severe reactions from Palythoas, in fact have had to visit the hospital in the Marshall Islands once due to improperly handling Palythoa rocks.

Alex Kerstich did some studies on blue rings once and found that there were at least 5 different sub species of blue rings. His thoughts were that only the larger one found along the Australian coast was a threat. I have watched fishermen pick them out of the rocks with their fingers and hold them tightly in their hands for restraint when catching them. The natives have no fear of them in most islands. Generally if something is dangerous the natives will know and respect them. I have not found that at all the case with blue rings.

I will not bring them in due to the high mortality during shipment and the short life span. I was approached to bring some in for the thread starter but did not want to due to the mortality issue. I think that there is much more of a liability issue with lion fish and stone fish from a health risk view.
 

monty

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Thales;98404 said:
An importer wrote this in the Industry forum on RDO:

That sounds quite a bit like the kind of "anecdote escalated to fact" folk wisdom that's frequently wrong. I have no idea who Alex Kerstich is, but from googling he did write a book on marine inverts in the sea of cortez... nothing about blue-rings on the first page of results except what you quoted, though.

I'd trust Roy on details of this more than pretty much anyone else I've heard of. I had the impression that the TTX-producing symbiotic bacteria had been identified, and probably cultured, in at least several of the named blue-ring species... I have no idea about the other species IDed in Norman's book. It certainly seems anecdotally true that they don't bite humans often, and it's even plausible that the small one in the picture would have trouble piercing human skin, and maybe even that in some environments the bacteria doesn't colonize the octo to produce TTX.

Regardless of anecdotal evidence, I'd say it's a stupid thing to bet one's life on. Kinda like saying "I know lots of people who drive without a seat belt, and none of them have died in a car crash, so I'm going to show off driving without a seatbelt to impress my friends" or something. If this guy has decided for himself that he'd prefer to take the risks given the anecdotal evidence, OK, but the tone seems to imply "and I'm going to scoff at all you wimpy sissies who worry about this," which seems irresponsible and offensive to me...

If anyone wants to see the post in situ, it's http://www.reefs.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=1302522&sid=3015df1ebcfd53486ec1280f6b2c1719
(click "previous page" to see the start of the thread)

There are people being obnoxious in several different directions... I tend to lean in the "why would I want an escape-prone, lethal, and fragile animal for a pet" side of things, but still, it's a valid point that they don't kill their owners, or their families, or researchers, very often. I want to be something of a libertarian with respect to things like this, so if someone wants to responsibly own or do something dangerous, I think it's society's place to make sure they're informed rather than prevented, unless they're also putting innocent people at risk. Unfortunately, when I read some of the justification, posturing, and misrepresentation that goes into rationalizing the machismo of keeping toxic animals, I question that ideal... I'm certain that a lot of these people don't want an octopus in particular, they want to prove that they can keep a toxic animal without showing fear.
 

Thales

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I trust the poster (because I know who it is) completely about his experience in the islands - which is no reason at all to mess with a potentially toxic animal.

Last I spoke to Roy to follow up the blue ring thing, there were no confirmed cases of death due to blue rings in captivity, and very few in the wild - which is also no reason to mess with a potentially toxic animal. Hopefully he will chime in if that info is out of date.

FWIW, most of the people I have known who have had blue rings haven't kept them for macho poison reasons, rather they thought the animal looked cool, and a good chunk of those people didn't know the animal was toxic.

It seems that thinking a lot of the people who keep blue rings want to prove they are fearless around a toxic animals is also one of those "anecdotes escalated to fact". :biggrin2:

If people want to keep a blue ring while wearing a 'seatbelt' I am ok with that. I am also ok with people choosing not to import them at all. For me, the having the choice is the important thing. I think the best thing would be for them to be available in the trade, but collected on demand, and costing at least 100 dollars US - but I generally feel that way about all animals in the trade.
 

monty

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Thales;98416 said:
FWIW, most of the people I have known who have had blue rings haven't kept them for macho poison reasons, rather they thought the animal looked cool, and a good chunk of those people didn't know the animal was toxic.

It seems that thinking a lot of the people who keep blue rings want to prove they are fearless around a toxic animals is also one of those "anecdotes escalated to fact". :biggrin2:

Well, maybe my reading between the lines skills are weak, but I inferred that a number of the posters on that thread thought it was appealing to own blue-rings specifically because they are toxic, and that some looked down on people who expressed concern (and others looked down on people who didn't express concern.) I doubt most of those people actually own blue rings, they probably just mouth off a lot, so maybe blue ring owners aren't a problem so much as people who say they want to be blue ring owners (or trolls in general...)

I can confirm that around 1986, when I was trying to buy an octo from some Bay Area LFS, they tried to "upsell" me to a blue ring "because they look so much prettier," and only mentioned (but admitted knowing) about the toxicity when I said "aren't those the ones that are fatally toxic?" The fact that the guy brushed this off gave me such a bad impression that I dropped the whole project (I didn't want to work with a store that would care more about upselling than killing their customers! I guess as long as I'd already *paid* for the octo, it's OK if I'm not a repeat customer!) So at least before you could look these things up on the internet, there were definitely people who tried to sell customers on them without mentioning that "sudden death" problem... that seems consistent with your having run into people keeping them who didn't realize the danger.

I also worry about, say, postal workers dealing with shipped blue-rings-- if the package is misaddressed or leaking or arrives when only the 8 year old is there to sign for it, and they have to open it up for some reason, if it's not labeled "caution: fatally toxic octopus" it could be a serious problem.
 

Thales

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Night at home for you too? :smile:
My wife and kid are at a Harry Potter book release party.

monty;98420 said:
Well, maybe my reading between the lines skills are weak, but I inferred that a number of the posters on that thread thought it was appealing to own blue-rings specifically because they are toxic, and that some looked down on people who expressed concern (and others looked down on people who didn't express concern.) I doubt most of those people actually own blue rings, they probably just mouth off a lot, so maybe blue ring owners aren't a problem so much as people who say they want to be blue ring owners (or trolls in general...)

:biggrin2:
That forum has traditionally has been a nasty place (thats starting to change) so the tone of posts can be bad, and defensiveness is way up.
You are right on all counts about the variation of posters in that thread though, and the range from outspoken, uninformed hobbyist to public aquarists.
I think it is an interesting point that blue ring owners rarely post - they know they will be flamed. That makes it kind of hard to get information on who is keeping them and how many come in. I am running into the same problems trying to get info on wunderpus - no one fesses up to actually getting one. The people who ask questions about them, such as the original poster (whom I know and would be someone I wouldn't worry about owning a blue ring) and get trashed which seems like a bad way to handle anything. It does seem like many of the people who ask about blue rings and get trashed and return to the forum that trashed them don't end up getting one.

I also worry about, say, postal workers dealing with shipped blue-rings-- if the package is misaddressed or leaking or arrives when only the 8 year old is there to sign for it, and they have to open it up for some reason, if it's not labeled "caution: fatally toxic octopus" it could be a serious problem.

Thats a worry with any marine ornamental. An out of water, abused zoanthind being handled by anyone is equally if not more dangerous than a blue ring.
 
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