A teen diver has incurred the wrath of a Washington state community by breaking an unwritten code when he dragged a live, 80-pound Pacific octopus from the water.
The controversy began when college student Dylan Mayer, 19, decided to take to the waters of Puget Sound for a class assignment. Mayer was asked to draw something for art class from nature. So, "I thought, how about something underwater?" he told the Seattle Times, which reported that Mayer obtained a permit to hunt shellfish, as required by law to harvest the octopus in area waters.
But in pulling the beloved creature from the water, Mayer violated an unwritten law within the local diving community.
“It's just not done. It's bad form. Even if you can do it, you shouldn't do it.” Bob Bailey, who witnessed Mayer dragging the octopus to shore, told the London Daily Mail.
Mayer was reportedly witnessed punching the octopus as he pulled it from the water -– after banging it with a pole to get it from its hiding place.
He was confronted, but appeared unfazed, “It’s legal, and there’s lots of them down there,” Mayer reportedly told local Seattle blogger Grateful Diver. "I might come back tomorrow and get another one."
Photos of Mayer posted on Facebook posing with the dead animal at his home ignited a firestorm, with online petitions calling for a ban on hunting octopus, which is currently legal.
Now the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife is considering bans on octopus harvesting near popular Seattle beaches and possibly other areas in the Puget Sound, the Seattle Times reported.
In an about-face, Mayer was the first to speak in support of a ban on hunting in the cove at a public hearing before the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.
“I didn’t know they were so beloved, or I wouldn’t have done it,” he told the commission, a news release issued by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife stated, according to the paper.
A final decision could take months.