A Washington Woman Was Hospitalized After Posing With Small Octopus On Her Face

When a Washington state woman met fishermen who had hooked an octopus during a fishing derby in Tacoma on August 2, she saw an opportunity to win a photo competition, according to a report.

The woman, Jamie Bisceglia, said she thought that posing with the octopus on her face could win her a prize at a fishing derby in the Tacoma Narrows on Friday, Seattle-based news station KIRO 7 reported on Tuesday.

What she didn't expect was that the octopus was venomous, and that during the photoshoot, she would be bitten twice on the face.

"It was a photo contest in the derby. So, crazy me, hindsight now and looking back, I probably made a big mistake," Bisceglia told the news station.

A giant Pacific octopus at an aquarium in 2012. Kurt Desplenter/AFP/Getty Images

The sea creature latched onto her face with its tentacles and bit her on the chin, resulting in "really intense pain" and bleeding.

For two days, she tried to manage the pain and swelling without seeking medical treatment, but ultimately went to the hospital.

Bisceglia apparently told KIRO that the octopus was a smaller version of a giant Pacific octopus, although a spokeswoman at the Point Defiance Aquarium told the news station that it could have been a Pacific red octopus. Both feed mainly on crabs, clams and mussels, and have a bite that contains a poisonous venom, which they use to kill their prey before cracking the prey's shell with their sharp beak, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's website warns people that although they may spot a red octopus while tidepooling, "it's best not to touch" the sea animal, as they are indeed inclined to bite "and then spit venom on the wound."

Bisceglia told reporters that she is "on three different antibiotics. This can come and go, the swelling, for months, they say."

She told reporters that she "will never" handle a live octopus in such a manner again.

All octopuses are venomous, according to a 2009 study. One of the deadliest marine animals is the tiny blue-ringed octopus, which lives in the Pacific Ocean between Japan and Australia. Though the creature is only about the size of a golf ball, its venom is so strong that one octopus could kill 26 humans within minutes. There is no anti-venom for the blue-ringed octopus.

Still, despite the powerful venom, there have been very few human fatalities from octopus bites; according to the 1996 book Venomous and Poisonous Marine Animals: a Medical and Biological Handbook by John A. Williamson, experts believe there have only ever been 11 to 16 recorded deaths.