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PSA: Do not put an octopus anywhere on your body


Don’t go chasing waterfalls … or an octopus, apparently.

Jamie Bisceglia was completely in her element at two fishing derbies in the south end of Puget Sound last weekend. She was operating her new business, South Sound Salmon Sisters, which is set to guide women on fishing trips.

The tomboy in a family of girls, she grew up with a fishing pole in one hand and a hunting rifle in the other.

“A lot of people don’t like the things that other people do, so I get a lot of backlash here doing this,” she told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “But I’m sorry to tell you guys that, you know, we’re all different, and this is who I am.”

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While out on the water, she came up with a sure-fire idea to win the derby’s photo contest. When her friend reeled in an octopus, she not only asked if she could take the octopus home for dinner — she put the eight-legged sea creature on her face for a photo op.

“It was not a very good idea now, looking back … Its tentacles were in my ears and in my nose,” she said. “It was fun at the time, until it actually put its beak into my chin — not once, but twice.”

Bisceglia had never before touched an octopus, so the fact that it had a beak came as a surprise. In fact, octopi use their beaks to rip apart shellfish.

“I tried to detach it from my face, but it felt like a barbed hook inside my chin,” Bisceglia said. “And so I knew I was going to rip away flesh if I didn’t let it calm down a bit.”

Once the octopus loosened its hold a bit, she was able to carefully pry it off her face so that it didn’t leave as large of a gash. Still, the wound bled for about half an hour and oozed pus for two days afterwards.

Always a fighter, Bisceglia decided to keep taking part in the derby rather than seek medical attention.

“I’m not your typical person, I guess,” she laughed.

What Bisceglia didn’t know was that octopi inject venom into their prey.

When she woke up on Sunday, the day after the derbies finished, her face was so swollen that her eyes wouldn’t open. She had trouble swallowing and moving part of her face. It was then that she finally opted to go to the hospital.

Now she is on three antibiotics to act as antidotes to the poison. She may also have a lasting scar on her chin.

However, she the last laugh in the battle with the octopus in the end — she ate it for dinner.

“It was wonderful,” she stated.

And she takes comfort in knowing that the pain might be worth first prize in the photo contest.

“They haven’t chose[n] the winner yet, so I’m still hoping I have a chance,” she laughed.

That’s not to say that that she recommends others do the same to win a photo contest. Bisceglia wants to use the media attention her story has garnered to spread this important message.

“I didn’t realize how it could affect me or anybody — I want everyone to know — don’t put an octopus on your face or anywhere on your body,” she said.

This has been a public service announcement.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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