Death in the octopus’ garden: Fatal blue-lined octopus envenomations of adult green sea turtles

Townsend, Kathy A., Altvater, Jens, Thomas, Michael C., Schuyler, Qamar A. and Nette, Geoffrey W. (2012) Death in the octopus’ garden: Fatal blue-lined octopus envenomations of adult green sea turtles. Marine Biology, 159 3: 689-695. doi:10.1007/s00227-011-1846-9


Author Townsend, Kathy A.
Altvater, Jens
Thomas, Michael C.
Schuyler, Qamar A.
Nette, Geoffrey W.
Title Death in the octopus’ garden: Fatal blue-lined octopus envenomations of adult green sea turtles
Journal name Marine Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0025-3162
1432-1793
Publication date 2012-03-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00227-011-1846-9
Open Access Status PMC
Volume 159
Issue 3
Start page 689
End page 695
Total pages 7
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Abstract The blue-lined octopus contains the powerful neuromuscular blocker tetrodotoxin (TTX), which causes muscle weakness and respiratory failure. is regarded as one of the most venomous marine animals in the world, and multiple human fatalities have been attributed to the octopus. To date, there have been no recorded incidents of an envenomation of a wild animal. Here, we present a newly developed, multi-stage tandem mass spectrometry technique that provides unequivocal evidence for two cases of envenomation of two ~110 kg herbivorous green sea turtles by two tiny cryptic blue-lined octopuses (~4 cm body length). These cases of accidental ingestion provide evidence for the first time of the antipredator effect of TTX and highlight a previously unconsidered threat to turtles grazing within seagrass beds.
Formatted abstract
The blue-lined octopus Hapalochlaena fasciata contains the powerful neuromuscular blocker tetrodotoxin (TTX), which causes muscle weakness and respiratory failure. H. fasciata is regarded as one of the most venomous marine animals in the world, and multiple human fatalities have been attributed to the octopus. To date, there have been no recorded incidents of an envenomation of a wild animal. Here, we present a newly developed, multi-stage tandem mass spectrometry technique that provides unequivocal evidence for two cases of envenomation of two ~110 kg herbivorous green sea turtles by two tiny cryptic blue-lined octopuses (~4 cm body length). These cases of accidental ingestion provide evidence for the first time of the antipredator effect of TTX and highlight a previously unconsidered threat to turtles grazing within seagrass beds.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online: 3 December 2011

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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Created: Fri, 09 Mar 2012, 01:31:59 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences