A bite from a venomous octopus put a Washington woman in the hospital after she posed for a picture with the creature on her face Friday.
Jamie Bisceglia, 45, said she was trying to win a photo competition at the Tacoma Narrows fishing derby when she was bitten by the sea creature.
“It was a photo contest in the derby. So, crazy me, hindsight now and looking back, I probably made a big mistake,” she said.
The photo shows Bisceglia smiling with the octopus attached to her face. However, it bit her twice and injected poisonous venom through its tentacles into her flesh.
“It was a really intense pain when it went inside and it just bled, dripping blood for a long time,” she recalled. Bisceglia said she tried to manage the pain and swelling on her own for two days but decided to seek medical treatment when it became too much.
She told reporters that she thought the creature was a smaller version of the giant Pacific octopus. However, a spokeswoman at the Point Defiance Aquarium told reporters that it may have been a Pacific red octopus, which injects prey with poison before cracking open the shell with its sharp beak.
Bisceglia said she asked a group of men who caught the octopus to take a picture of her with the creature for the competition.
“It’s soft, it’s squishy, it doesn’t feel like it can hurt you — I put it on my face,” she commented. “The tentacles were squirming in my ear, my nose, it was just playing with me on my face.”
Moments later, Bisceglia realized the octopus was biting her. “And then all of a sudden its beak entered my chin and my eyes popped open wide and they could all see that I was getting attacked, and the photos are taken at the moment it was attacking me.”
The Pacific red octopus are “inclined to bite” and people should avoid touching them if they are seen in tidepools, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website. Additionally, a bite from this particular octopus can take up to three weeks to heal.
Bisceglia said that “when it bites you it feels like it’s barbed and if I pulled it out it was going to take out my flesh.”
The Fox Island native is now taking three different kinds of antibiotics to combat the pain and swelling.
However, Bisceglia said before she went to the hospital, she “got a little revenge” by cooking and eating the creature at a friend’s house over the weekend.