- A man was attacked by the “angriest octopus” off the coast of Western Australia.
- Lance Karlson was whipped by the creature and left with stinging red imprints.
- He treated the wounds with Coca-Cola and is now fine.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A father was attacked by what he described as the “angriest octopus” off the coast of Western Australia on March 18.
Lance Karlson, a geologist and former lifeguard, was in Geographe Bay in Dunsborough with his two-year-old daughter when he spotted the creature in the shallow water, having initially thought it was a stingray striking a seagull.
Karlson filmed some footage of the octopus and posted it on Instagram, which has now been viewed more than 221,000 times.
“The octopus lashed out at us, which was a real shock,” he told Insider.
“My response to the first encounter which I caught on film was shock, followed by fascination. I had not encountered an octopus this close before, so at the time, I was mostly intrigued. Keep in mind that I was with my daughter, and I think any dad would relate to being more protective of her than fearful of the threat,” said Karlson.
The former lifeguard left the octopus in peace and went to set up a tent further along the beach for his wife and daughter.
About 20 minutes later, Karlson was swimming in the sea on his own (having swum there “many times” before) when the octopus came back – while looking at crab shells in water about 1.5 metres deep, Karlson was whipped across his left arm.
“My goggles became fogged, the water was suddenly murky, and I remember being shocked and confused,” he said. “I was then struck a second time, more forcefully, across my neck and upper back. I can only describe it as a ‘whipping’ sensation followed by a stinging.”
When threatened, octopuses squirt out an ink-like substance, and Karlson believes he may have been unknowingly in the creature’s home.
He swam back to shore, about 25 meters away, but the encounter left Karlson with stinging red raised imprints on his arm, neck, and upper back.
Karlson, who has been a geologist for 13 years, and his family rushed back to their hotel room looking for something acidic for his wounds – unable to find any vinegar. They made do with Coca-Cola.
“I didn’t actually know if Coke would work, but given how acidic it is, I decided it was worth trying,” he said. “Turns out it works.”
He didn’t go to the doctor and confirmed on his Instagram stories that he’s now fine, with the pain and marks only having lasted a few days.
Despite the shock of Karlson’s attack, Bryan Fry, an associate professor at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland, told CNN that octopuses generally don’t pose a risk to humans.
“Like all octopuses, it is venomous, but like most, it is harmless to humans, with the venoms dramatically more potent on invertebrates like clams and lobster,” he said.
Karlson’s experience has made headlines around the world, to his surprise.
As a geology student, Karlson attended Cornell University on a student exchange year in 2007-2008. “I remember being asked on many occasions by other students about the Australian animals that regularly make headlines in the USA – our deadly snakes, spiders, great white sharks, and crocodiles – never could I have imagined featuring in one of those articles!” he said.
Karlson hopes people respond to his story with intrigue and fascination rather than fear.
“These are truly remarkable, highly intelligent creatures that clearly have some very strong emotions,” he said. “I think I simply encountered one on a day in which it woke up on the wrong side of the bed!”