The killing of a giant Pacific octopus in a popular diving area near West Seattle, Wash., has drawn ire from the general public and divers alike and has led to calls for the state to stop issuing hunting permits.
The controversy began on October 31 when Dylan Mayer and a friend caught the octopus in question at the Alki Cove 2 in Elliot Bay. Local divers took pictures and confronted Mayer and his friend, who didn’t believe they had done anything wrong.
The blog Rapture of the Deep posted images taken at the scene and wrote:
The octopus was clearly in distress and fighting, but the divers repeatedly struck the mantle and then carried it up the beach and to the parking lot, writhing and squirming, where it was unceremoniously thrown into the back of a red Ford pickup truck.
Several local divers including Bob B. and Mark S. confronted the captors and and began asking questions. The individuals clearly did not care that they had just taken a beautiful octopus from one of the most popular dive sites in the state of Washington. The divers tried to reason with the hunters and explained that people come from all over the world to this site to see these GPOS.
The Northwest Diving Institute also shared the images and sparked further outrage in the diving community.
“They’re incredibly intelligent, curious, very playful,” diver Drew Collins told NBC News. When he was asked about the hunting photos, he replied, “I don’t know. The whole thing just made me sick.”
Washington State Fish and Wildlife Enforcement officers checked out the issue after complaints were made, but found that everything was perfectly legal. Under state law, with a permit it’s legal to hunt and kill one each day.
Mayer claims he didn’t know what he did would make so many people angry, but contradicted himself when he told the Seattle Times that he chose one to kill that was not one of the regulars he sees.
The diving community remains unimpressed with his feigned ignorance, while other images reportedly grabbed from Mayer’s Facebook page of him kicking a porcupine and engaging in other cruel acts against animals circulate and add to the furor.
Threats have been made against Mayer’s family and he’s been blacklisted from scuba shops in the area.
The owners of Underwater Sports issued a statement and urged people to educate both divers and the public about Puget Sound’s ecosystem.
Although, what happened in cove 2 was perfectly legal, we feel it was ethically reprehensible. Underwater hunting and harvesting are unique privileges that are only available still due to wise resource management, conservation programs, and respectful usage. Alki Cove 2 is a well known hub for the famed Giant Pacific Octopus, which many divers consider to be a sacred species within our community. Cove 2 is one of the most popular dive sites in the Puget Sound region and to many divers is much like a petting zoo for our favorite underwater attraction. As such, at this point we feel our energies and resources are best served by protecting these precious creatures and/or their local habitats.
“People come from all over the state, if not all over the country, to visit octopus just over here,” Scott Lundy, who was a witness, told CBS. “One octopus lost its life, but hopefully we can save the others.”
Wildlife and octopus advocates are now trying to turn a negative situation into a positive one by urging the state to make Cove 2 a Marine Protected Area.
Please sign and share the petition asking the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect the giant Pacific octopus and stop issuing one-day hunting licenses.
Photo credit: Thinkstock