As It Happens

'We all make mistakes,' says woman who got bit by an octopus she put on her face

Jamie Bisceglia was participating in a Tacoma, Wash., fishing derby over the weekend and wanted to help her friend get a good picture for the photo contest. 

Jamie Bisceglia was trying to help her friend get a good picture for a fishing derby photo contest

Jamie Bisceglia had to be hospitalized after she was bitten by an octopus she put on her face. (Jamie Bisceglia/Instagram )

This story was originally published Aug. 9, 2019.


When Jamie Bisceglia first put an octopus on her face, she says it felt "squishy" and "fun."

The Fox Island, Wash., woman was participating in a Tacoma fishing derby on the first weekend in August and wanted to help her friend get a good picture for the photo contest. 

"The suckers weren't, like, strong. They just kind of crept all over my face and my nose and my ears," she told As It Happens guest host Piya Chattopadhyay.

Then, the freshly captured mollusc chomped down. 

"When its beak entered my chin, it was the most intense pain," she said. "It felt like ... a barbed hook. If I tried to release it off my face, I knew I was going to tear skin or flesh away."

'I was the talk of the hospital'

It was a split-second decision, and one she regrets.

"I'm not here to, you know, try to make myself look good, because I know I don't," she said, "We're human. We all make mistakes."

She waited until the creature loosened its jaws a bit, then quickly hauled it off her face — just narrowly managing to free herself before it could bite again.

The wound was bleeding profusely, but Bisceglia says she played it cool. 

"I'm a strong-willed woman. I'm by myself on a boat. I've got five guys watching me, so I try not to act like anything major is going on," she said.

"I grab my towel as it's bleeding and I just keep it held to my face and go on with fishing in the derby."

Bisceglia was trying to help her friend win the derby photo contest. (Jamie Bisceglia/Instagram )

Bisceglia kept on fishing through that Friday evening and into the next afternoon.

She went home on Saturday evening, and when she woke up the next day, her face was completely swollen. The octopus was venomous.

"My eyes were swollen, I couldn't see very well out of my left side, my glands were completely swollen, underneath my chin was a large pus pocket, and then the left side of my face was completely paralyzed," she said.

Still, she didn't panic. 

Bisceglia says she hopped in the shower, cleaned her fishing gear, and then headed "straight to the hospital."

"There wasn't a second before they had me in a room because it was the rarest case they've ever seen," she said. "I was the talk of the hospital."

It didn't end well for the octopus 

Bisceglia is out of the hospital and recovering now. She's taking antibiotics and medications to deal with the venom. She has a wound on her face that she suspects will become a lifelong scar. 

But she ultimately got the last laugh. She took the octopus home, cooked it and ate it — a fact she says she's been getting a lot of flak for online.

"I'm not here to judge anyone, and if they want to judge me, so be it. They have nothing better to do than to, you know, ridicule somebody for doing what they love to do," she said.

"This is my passion. I fish, I hunt and I'm a forager. And we all eat, right?"

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Jamie Bisceglia produced by  Richard Raycraft and Samantha Lui.