Story Summary

Octopus hunting in Washington state

The question of whether hunting of octopus should be allowed in the Puget Sound or throughout the entire state was raised after a scuba diver was seen hauling a giant Pacific octopus out of a popular diving site off  West Seattle in late 2012 — and the photos went viral.

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Should the state ban octopus hunting?

octopus2SEATTLE — It was the picture that sparked outrage in the Northwest and across the country,

It shows a 19-year-old showing off a giant Pacific octopus he had hunted and killed while diving at a popular diving spot off West Seattle.

“I think if I came across a magnificent creature like that, I would leave it be,” said Patrick Inglis, another local diver.

What the hunter did was legal, but the pictures went viral, and a lot of people were angry that an octopus could be plucked out of the waves and killed.

It took the controversy from the beach to the boardroom.

Petitions were sent to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to change the law, and a panel of divers and fishermen was put together to come up with some ideas.

Members of the Fish and Wildlife Commission heard those suggestions  Friday. They include doing nothing and keeping octopus hunting legal. The state could also ban it from certain popular dive areas. And there is also the option of outlawing octopus hunting in Washington state.

“I don’t think that’s the right approach,” said Bill Minton, who runs a charter boat for divers. “It’s not a conservation issue, it’s a perception issue.”

Minton said banning octopus hunting from certain beaches may be all right, but there is no need to outlaw it since octopus numbers in the Puget Sound remain strong.

“I’ve known people for years who have harvested octopus; they generally just don’t go to popular dive locations,” said Minton. “That young man made a poor choice in location.”

The commission will hold two public hearings on the issue this later this month, including April 24 at the Seattle Aquarium. They are also taking comments on the Department of Fish and Wildlife website.


A giant Pacific octopus

By Kate Burgess

Q13 FOX News reporter

SEATTLE — Two local men saw a fellow scuba diver dragging a large octopus out of the water at a popular dive site on the Puget Sound. And while it’s legal to hunt octopus, some divers say it’s like killing animals at a petting zoo.

The wildlife at beautiful Cove 2 on the Puget Sound draws fishermen and scuba divers from all over. But there’s controversy bubbling under these waves, after photos surfaced of a young man hunting octopus in Elliott Bay

Scott Lundy, one of the divers who confronted the hunters, said, “They were doing it at a very popular dive site, which is unfortunate. Lots of people come from around the world to see them at this site.”

Lundy said he showed up just as Dylan Mayer was bragging about his kill.

“We asked a lot of questions,” Lundy said, “and the attitude was, ‘Well we’re here, we’re doing it, it’s legal and we don’t really care.’ “

The photos have gone viral – and sparked hundreds of outraged posts around the world.

Underwater photographer Calvin Tang founded the Northwest Dive Club and kicked off the conversation on his blog.

Hobby fisherman Patrick Inglis said, “I think if i came across a magnificent creature like that I’d leave it be.”

Since the story broke, several dive shops have banned Mayer from their stores. Mayer never responded to our call, but Tang talked to him Thursday.

“He said that he likes the taste of octopus and he was planning to eat it, he wasn’t just senselessly going out and killing,” Tang said.

Mayer’s actions have started a conversation about protecting these creatures in the Puget Sound.

“If the octopus is a rare enough species and needs protection, then they should put laws together to protect it,” Inglis said. “If the law isn’t there, I have to assume there’s a reason, but maybe something like this is a catalyst for a decision like that to be made.”