People are outraged after pictures surfaced of 19-year-old Dylan Mayer, a diver, catching a still-alive Pacific octopus. Mayer caught the octopus in Washington’s Puget Sound in an area popular with divers because of the variety of underwater wildlife. Mayer said, “I eat it for meat. It’s no different than fishing. It’s just a different animal.”
But other Seattle-area divers don’t agree. After Rapture Of The Deep posted photos of Dylan and his friend with the octopus, controversy brewed as to whether his actions of removing a Giant Pacific Octopus from its natural habitat were justified. Technically, there are no legal protections on this species of octopus or on the area where he captured it from. Mayer also had a permit to hunt on that particular day. But divers feel that the Pacific octopus is a unique, treasured part of the Puget Sound, and that the fragile ecosystem of the area should require additional protection.
A Washington game warden, Wendy Willette said:
“I think the timing, manner and place where the harvest occurred may be the issue. It could have been done at a better time. It’s like deer hunting. You don’t kill a deer while kids are viewing it, and I think it’s a similar problem here. You need to be sensitive to other drivers and people if you’re going to be a sportsman.”
Mayer then posted several other pictures on his Facebook page, including one of the dead octopus spread out on the floor of his garage. He explained that he wanted to take it so a friend could draw it for an assignment in an art class, and that his family has already given away most of the meat from the octopus. There was some concern over whether or not the octopus had been protecting her eggs, but it was later determined that it was a male. Mayer added, “The bottom line is another octopus will move up into that area and take its place.”
Mayer has received death threats and other threatening communications since the incident. Bob Bailey, a witness to the octopus’ removal from the water, said “It’s just not done. It’s bad form. Even if you can do it, you shouldn’t do it. As they were coming in you could tell the octopus was alive. It was writhing around and they were wrestling with it.”
Even though Mayer was well within his legal rights, people take issue with his treatment of the animal and his attitude towards the situation. I’m not a hunter or a diver, but I’d love to hear from some of you who are. What do you think of this situation? Will it bring about new, necessary protections for underwater wildlife in Washington state or are divers making a big deal over nothing?