“Are the Flamboyant Cuttlefish in Lembeh Venomous or Poisonous? What about the Blue Ring Octopus, and the Spiny Devilfish: Venomous or Poisonous?”
These are commonly asked critter-questions at Two Fish Lembeh, especially during weeks like these when all of the above mentioned animals are making a regular appearance. Apparently the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is poisonous, not venomous, and the Blue Ring Octopus and Spiny Devilfish are both venomous. The difference between venomous animals and poisonous animals is how their toxin is delivered.
If an animal transfers its toxin (organic poison) through bites or stings, the animal is considered to be venomous. The Blue Ring Octopus, for example, is a highly venomous animal with a very dangerous bite. Under the mantle of every octopus, at the center of its eight legs, lies a small beak that leads into the mouth of the animal. This beak is most often used for drilling into and prying open their favorite bivalves, cowries and other shelled foods. However, the saliva of the Blue Ring Octopus is so highly toxic that even the smallest nibble or playful nip can lead to life-threatening paralysis.
Spiny Devilfish are also venomous animals, but their delivery method is quite different from the Octopus. Spiny Devilfish inject their toxins thru their spines. Sacs filled with toxin sit (internally) at the base of their dorsal spine. When threatened by a predator (or squished by the knee of a kneeling diver), the fish will stab its assailant with its sharp dorsal spine, in turn releasing toxic venom. This is the method of toxin transfer for all Scorpionfish, but also for Waspfish, Stonefish and Lionfish, which is exactly why we ask divers and photographers in Lembeh to be so aware of their immediate surroundings.
Flamboyant Cuttlefish are technically referred to as being poisonous because they don’t inject their toxins via a bite or sting. Instead, you would have to eat a Flamboyant Cuttlefish to experience any negative effects. The Flamboyant Cuttlefish warns potential predators that it makes for a nasty meal by showing off very bright colorations whenever it feels threatened. Divers are in absolutely no danger when observing or photographing this beautiful little Cuttlefish, unless they are very, very hungry…