A young girl had a lucky escape at Cronulla on Wednesday after picking up a shell with a deadly creature hiding inside.
Tucked away inside the seemingly innocent shell was a blue-ringed octopus, found while snorkelling at Salmon Haul Reserve.
The creature is one of the most dangerous animals in the sea and have caused fatalities in the past.
They have an extremely powerful venom that they use to kill their prey of crabs and small fishes.
But they are non-aggressive, and prefer to hide under ledges and in crevices.
The girl’s mother, Julie Tattam, posted photos of the beautiful yet dangerous octopus on Facebook.
“My daughter came walking out of the water with a big shell in her hands saying ‘look at this gorgeous octopus, I caught it in this shell,’” she said.
“She walked all the way up the beach to show us and the octopus started crawling out of the shell towards her hand so she dropped it onto the rocks.
“I ran down to look and it was a blue ringed octopus. She had been carrying it in her hands – luckily with the shell to protect her.
“I didn’t realise they were so little. It was scary.”
Encounters with humans usually result in the octopus quickly darting for cover. It is only when an animal is picked up that it may 'bite' and inject its paralysing venom, known as tetrodotoxin.
The species are brown and it is only when they are disturbed that the vibrant blue markings appear as a warning.
They are found on rocky shores and in coastal waters to a depth of 15 metres and measures about four-and-a-half centimetres, according to the Australian Museum.