Cute incident, but a close call. I used to collect shells and other things while free diving on some Japanese reefs. I always inspected each and every item I picked up extremely closely. Mainly for any signs of life still within the shell, i.e. it's original owner, but other things as well. Also it's a really good idea that you bring along "collection bags" to place everything in. This way if you've missed something at least it crawls out into the bag, and not your wetsuit.
I don't know what kind of octo it was, it's head was as big as a plum,
it was accidentally collected in a Sea shell. I have handled octos n different occasions, and I should have known it was agitated, but my Aunt wanted me to show her Grandkids. After it rolled off my palm I gently picked it back up, it rolled again off and I repeated my actions. It stayed put for about 15 seconds- then its mantle flattened against my palm for aproximately another 15 seconds, maybe half a minute. I felt the piercing shooting pain and immediatley turned my hand palm down. It stayed on for a short bit and dropped off of my hand and into a tub of water. I had about a .25" cut on my palm, but the searing pain was climbing up my arm past my elbow. My mom got out her vinegar and started rinsing the site of the cut. My husband and dad, found my imitrex (for migraines)
and gave me one- since my head also felt like it was exploding. My dad found some locals to ask for advice, and they said I should go to the dr. right away.
The dr. was right next to the pharmacy and he walked over with me. He prescribed veldrol and said I would probably have nerve pain for months or years. Either the beak- or more likely- a piece of it is still in my palm. The pain went away in about 3or4 days. Any touch to my palm hurt like crazy for the next 2yrs. Then it became infected and my entire palm was covered with what looked like hives. I was put on oral and topical antibiotics.I can still feel the bit in my palm, I live in NM and docs here aren't eager to disturb it. Luckily now, I don't have any pain from it- unless I hit the exact spot. Its been an additional 3yrs.
At least we know the octopus in question wasn't a blue-ring. The most likely candidate is Octopus fitchi. It is small, prone to biting and has a fairly nasty venom. I haven't heard of any deaths, but it has a bad reputation. I was bitten once years ago and I can attest that it hurts. Wounds in the palm of the hand can be difficult. Things seem to encapsulate there fairly easily.
What is interesting in all the accounts is that bites from Caribbean animals seem benign or nonexistent (no briareus reports at all and these are becoming one of the most commonly kept and often handled by crabbers). In my two instances - O. mercatoris and O. hummelincki/filosis, the skin was not broken deeply enough to bleed and there was no effect as if any kind of venom was involved (both species were senescent males very near expiration).
Also no reports about bites from the Indonesian aculeatus or small unidentified macropus (an incredibly gentle animal).
It appears that all the octos from the Pacific cause serious reactions.
edit: 2012 We now have a bite from brieareus while feeding. The intent does not appear to have been to bite the hand that was feeding it.
I looked all over the web for info on my bite and no one knows anything- this database is a godsend and I am so glad someone out there had that lightbulb moment. Now that the injury is less irritating (LOL) I can look back and see it more clinically. This site is fantastic and I applaud the work you do.
I was bitten by a small common Octopus (Octopus Vulgaris), about 4 inch tentacle span, on the back of my hand as it crawled over while I was showing it to my wife after finding it under a rock in the shallows in a Greek bay.
The bite was just a small puncture near/on a vein, causing immediate pain worse than a bee sting (I'm a bee keeper!). There was a red swelling at the bite site and pain and some swelling up my arm to the shoulder for several days, and some 'red line' on the veins which I monitored closely because I was on a Greek island, and medical assistance was distant and expensive. After a few weeks there was tissue necrosis at the centre of the bite, and this healed very slowly. I can probably dig out some pictures of the bite if anyone is interested.
Two years later I have no after effects other than a 1/4 inch flat bluish scar at the bite site. I was surprised that such a small specimen of this common species could be so toxic, -I have handled its larger relatives in the past. I understand why the local fishermen avoid handling them or wear thick gloves.
Overall, the effects of this bite were similar to a bite from a venomous snake (I was bitten by an Adder (Vipera berus) in the UK some years back, but that's another story)... My advice is avoid bites from even the small cuddly innocent-looking critters.