First Time Meeting A Deadly Creature – Blue Ringed Octopus – Blue Point – Bali
The sea is a scary place. Aside from the constant threat of drowning, there’s also a lot of things that want to kill you in there. Stonefish, lion fish, blue ringed octopus, sea snakes, Portuguese man’o’wars, box jellyfish. All incredibly potent venomous creatures and all a great source of fascination for me as a child, reading about the ocean in my books. I didn’t plan on meeting any of them in person.
After leaving Kuta to head towards Uluwatu and the Bukit Peninsular, we were struck by the sudden change of pace. After spending what felt like an age in traffic, we were finally out of the city and into the small surfers town. It contained all of the amenities that a gentrified tourist could need – from trendy bars to organic cafes. Also shops selling sun cream.
We made our way down to Blue Point – a beach that apparently holds some status as a surfers paradise, and we could see why. There were a myriad of options for repairing boards and procuring surfing paraphernalia, alongside sundry eateries, all contained on a steep incline pitching hard towards a tumultuous sea. The stairs to reach the shops and cafes were irregular, hard, and gave the impression of being whittled out of the cliff face itself, with any buildings feeling like they were practically hanging off the side.
We ate a meal at the top – a slightly pricier option out in this tourist trap, costing about £10 to feed us both – before heading down to the beach.
The way to reach the beach from Blue Point is down a particularly steep set of stairs (even more so than the ones above, before either turning left into a cave that exits onto a beach, or heading down a beach-bottomed gully towards a more narrow stretch of beach, with an abundance of rock pools between itself and low tide. We opted for the latter.
At the time we entered, the rock pools were still connected somewhat to the sea, with larger swells refilling some of the more distant pools. Climbing into a waist deep pool, we were shocked by how cold it was. The ocean off the Bukit Peninsula is not served by any warm currents, so it was a bracing experience compared to the outside temperature. Immediately, we found a plethora of marine life to look at, small shrimp darted about the bottom of the pool, bottom feeders went about their business and some larger fish swam freely about the pool. It was the most interesting rock pool I had ever seen.
I was having a closer look at a large blenny at the bottom when I spotted something moving unusually along a rock, it was a light green-brown colour with a bulbous head. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a small octopus, making movements towards the blenny. I stepped back and shouted to Laura that I’d found something awesome and that she should come and look. I grabbed the waterproof camera so I could capture the octopus on that.
Climbing back into the water, I returned to my position to find that the octopus had changed colour. It was now a more orange-yellow hue, standing out against the rocks it stood upon. And it was flashing blue rings at the blenny. It was a blue ringed octopus.
Images flashed through my mind cultivated as a youngster reading about the worlds deadliest cephalopod. I recalled an account that I’d read about a surfer who allowed an octopus to climb onto him, that then climbed over his shoulder, biting him on the spine, causing either paralysis or death. All within minutes. Random words and half remembered fragments of descriptions of neurotoxins, and a list of their (ultimately fatal) effects bounced around my mind. I tried to recall how one would treat a bite. Then waved my camera in the octopuses face.
Unexpectedly, the already amped up octopus turned away from its diner/dinner and rounded on me, again flashing its rings an iridescent blue in my direction. I stepped back. It let go of the rock and started floating towards me. I took another step back. It continued swimming, at an increased pace. I left the pool abruptly.
Figuring I could probably outmanoeuvre an octopus on dry land, I watched from the relative safety of the rock, holding the camera a couple of feet back, as the octopus swam away. We eventually climbed back in the pool, much more cautious of our footsteps this time.
We saw a few more critters, but after our brush with one of the most beautiful and deadly animals we could hope to see, nothing could compare. We watched the sun set from a safer vantage point on the beach, and headed home, pleased to have randomly seen this incredible creature.