Visitors to the ocean this summer should think twice before handling the colorful and cuddly octopuses they come across or find on the end of their fishing lines.
Highly toxic blue-ringed octopuses that can kill a human with a single bite have been spotted recently in Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, even though the small creatures normally inhabit waters near Kyushu and farther south.
Researchers believe that increases in ocean temperatures have led to a spread of the octopuses farther north than their usual habitat.
According to officials of the Research Institute of Marine Invertebrates in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, the blue-ringed octopuses grow to about 15 centimeters long. While the animals are normally brownish in color and docile, they turn a brilliant yellow when attacked, and their bodies become covered with fluorescent blue spots. The octopus produces venom containing tetrodotoxin, the same toxin found in deadly fugu or blowfish. One or two milligrams of the venom can kill a human.
The octopuses normally inhabit reefs in subtropical regions stretching from Japan to Australia. However, the animals have been increasingly spotted in the Kanto region in recent years.
Japanese low-cost carrier Vanilla Air, the successor to Air Asia Japan, went into service on Friday with an early morning flight departing Narita International Airport near Tokyo for Naha in Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa. (Jiji Press )
The government has abandoned efforts to meet a court-set deadline of Friday for opening the gates of a dike built as part of a state reclamation project in Isahaya Bay in Nagasaki Prefecture, agriculture minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the same day. (Yomiuri )
The Tokyo District Court on Thursday sentenced a former leader of the Kanto Rengo bosozku motorcycle gang to prison on charges of manslaughter in last year’s beating death of a restaurant manager in the Roppongi entertainment area (Tokyo Reporter )
A Philippine beauty queen has been crowned Miss International in a pageant marred by allegations of intimidation that kept her predecessor away -- pledging to use her title to help victims of the country's devastating typhoon. (myrepublica.com )