Summer time in Australia is hot and most people gravitate towards the beach or cool waterholes. However, many people are not aware of the dangers ,and we often hear of visitors to our shores drowning or being injured by sharks, stone-fish and poisonous sea animals. Rocks, rock-pools and seaweed debris are wonderful hiding places for these dangers, and often drownings happen because the oceans around Australia are strong and fierce and visitors are excited by the vastness of our shores. Here is a little story that shows that even Australians can be ignorant of the menaces in small and innocent looking pools found in the rocky edges of the sea.
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The following painting, by Mykey (https://www.instagram.com/kwhyette ) , inspired the following short story.
A Day at the Beach.
The rocks felt warm under Toby’s feet as he carefully picked his way along the headland. His mother followed close behind, carrying the picnic basket.
Every now and again, Toby stopped and knelt down, looking at the pools of seawater trapped by the shallow formations of sand and grit. Then he bound away towards the next obstacle or two.
Eventually he stopped at a fairly deep pool that looked as if it had been there for a while. He called out to his Mum to come and look.
“See, Mum,” he said excitedly. “There are little fish and seaweed clumps hiding crabs and stuff!” His mother called out to be careful, but he grinned and submerged his hand in the water, watching as a couple of sea anemones closed up to avoid his prying fingertips.
A tiny crab scurried away and Toby tried to catch it. Then he saw another small sea animal that fascinated him. It looked like a baby octopus, and this time he managed to get it onto his hand.
“Oooh, Mum, this tickles,” he said, holding out the prized wriggling creature in both his hands to show it to her. It has pretty blue rings on it!”
Toby’s mother let out a squeal.
“Let it go!” she yelled, dropping the picnic basket in her haste to reach her son. “It’s poisonous!”
“But it’s so pretty!”
His mother reached him and flicked the octopus off of his hands and it fell back into the pool, hiding away immediately. Toby was not happy.
“But Mum…” he whined.
When she got her breath back, and felt her heart begin to beat normally, she said.
“That, my son, was a blue-ringed octopus, and is considered to be one of the most venomous marine species known to man. If it had bitten you, I would have no longer had a son!”