Last October, hundreds of Seattle-area divers were outraged when a Dylan Mayer, a 19-year old SCUBA diver, exited Seacrest Park neark Alki Point with a giant Pacific octopus. The park is a very popular local dive site (with several hundred divers reportedly diving here on a busy weekend), and may divers chose the location specifically to see octopus.
Photos and video were taken at the dive site and the story of the taking of the 30-pound female octopus by Mayer was splashed across local television news stations, became a hot topic in social media, and was a popular topic in many northwest dive shops, clubs, and in online discussion forums. Local activists photographed Mr Mayer’s catch and posted the photos on their website and urged outraged residents to sign a petition banning the harvesting of giant Pacific octopuses.
When investigated by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, officials found that taking the octopus was completely legal – regulations have permitted divers to harvest one giant Pacific octopus per day in most areas of Puget Sound. Dylan Mayer was a certified diver, had a valid fishing license, and did not officially break any laws in harvesting the octopus. Some divers openly supported the current laws in place and taking octopus, although many believed it was not advisable to do so at such a popular dive site.
Now divers and other advocates have taken action to change the law and prevent it from happening again.
After the event took place last October, divers petitioned the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Commission to outlaw octopus hunting or to create preserves where they will be safe. The commission’s unanimous vote came in Friday, and recreational hunting of giant Pacific octopus is now prohibited at seven popular scuba diving sites in the Puget Sound region. One of these sites is Seacrest Park, the site where the octopus was taken last Fall.
According to the Seattle Aquarium, Giant Pacific octopuses average 60 pounds but can weigh up to 150 ponds. Their arms can span 20 feet across, and even a fully grown octopus can fit through a hole the size of a lemon. Their lifespan is a short 3-5 years (Click here to read more interesting facts).
Above: The giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)