A Washington State woman was hospitalized after an octopus she put on her face bit her on the chin and injected her with venom. Jamie Bisceglia of Fox Island pulled the dangerous stunt on August 2 while participating in a salmon fishing competition in the Tacoma Narrows.
When Bisceglia saw the octopus, she thought it would be funny to be photographed with the eight-legged sea creature on her face. “Crazy me, hindsight now and looking back, I probably made a big mistake,” she explained.
The fishing enthusiast believes she was attacked by a juvenile Giant Pacific octopus however, the Pacific red octopus also lives in the waters around Washington.
Bisceglia, who has been fishing since childhood, is the owner of South Sound Salmon Sisters, LLC, a company that takes women on guided fishing trips. “My goal is to motivate women to get out on the water and fish,” she said.
Here’s what you need to know about Jamie Bisceglia and her risky octopus encounter.
1. Bisceglia Initially Thought the Octopus was “Just Playing” on Her Face
During the fishing competition, Bisceglia noticed that someone fishing with a group of friends had hooked an octopus. She asked if she could have it and said, “Don’t let it go. I want to eat it for dinner.”
Realizing that she wasn’t going to win the fishing derby, Bisceglia came up with the idea that she could salvage the weekend and win $100 in the derby’s photo contest. “I thought [the octopus] was pretty cool. It was a gorgeous, exotic creature and I put it on my face.”
“The tentacles were squirming in my ear, my nose, it was just playing with me on my face,” she said.
2.The Octopus Grabbed her Face & Dug its Beak Into Her Chin
Bisceglia now admits she didn’t know octopuses have sharp, powerful beaks that are used to crack their prey’s shells. They can also inject a powerful venom if they need to subdue their catch or defend themselves.
Bisceglia told KIRO the octopus first grabbed her face with its suckers, then dug its beak into her chin. It briefly let go, then bit her again.
She said her eyes “popped” open when she felt the octopus’s sharp beak drill into her skin. Her chin bled for approximately 30 minutes after freeing herself from the animal. “It was a really intense pain when it went inside. And it just bled, dripping blood for a long time,” Bisceglia said.
The bite felt like a barb. “If I pulled it out it was going to take out my flesh,” she said. Photos taken by the fishermen show Bisceglia desperately trying to pull the animal off her face.
After the incident, Bisceglia posted pictures on Instagram and commented, “Can you say CRAZY! Yes, that is an octopus on my face!! I didn’t know they had a beak that they can inject into you. Well it happened to me. Ouch! My chin is swollen up and would not stop bleeding and now it’s just oozing. But, I’m going to cook it for dinner! LMFAO.
3. Bisceglia Waited Two Days Before Seeking Medical Help
Although the bite was extremely painful, bleeding and oozing, Bisceglia kept fishing in the derby for two more days before seeking treatment. She finally went to Tacoma General Hospital after the left side of her face became paralyzed and swollen.
“I could tell I couldn’t swallow properly and I could tell when I opened my eyes it was kind of blurry, the left side of my face, my throat, my glands were swollen and it felt my left side of my face was paralyzed,” she said.
“They took me in stat, but the IVs didn’t work and my arm swelled up like an elephant,” she told the Huffington Post.
“I’m still in pain. I’m on three different antibiotics,” she told 17, adding that the pain and swelling can “come and go” for several months. Bisceglia also said she’s taking the herbal supplement milk thistle, hoping it will relieve some of the pain caused the venom.
4. Bisceglia Ate the Octopus
Bisceglia took the saying “revenge is a dish best served cold,” literally. The fishing enthusiast said she went to a friend’s house to cook the octopus, then served her foe up on a salad. Bisceglia said she “enjoyed a beautiful meal that was delicious.”
While Bisceglia seems to have taken the incident in stride, she hopes her story will serve as a cautionary tale for others, warning that animals who may look “delicate” and “precious” can cause severe injury. “I would tell everyone not to touch something that they don’t know what the consequences are.”
5. All Octopuses Are Venomous
Octopuses are typically shy creatures that will hide or flee from humans, but if provoked, an octopus will defend itself by using its beak to inject venom through a bite. All species of octopuses are believed to be venomous.
Lethal to small sea life, humans who are bitten typically survive but will suffer from severe pain for several weeks. Healing can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
The only octopus species known to be deadly to humans is the Australian blue-ringed octopus. The creature has a lethal venom that causes paralysis and stops breathing. At least 11 people have died after being bitten by the blue ring octopus.