For scuba divers off Seattle’s Cove 2, one of the coolest sightings is that of a giant Pacific octopus, an intelligent and mysterious creature that is a master of disguise and, thus, typically elusive.
And apparently, one of the most uncool acts is to capture and kill one of these remarkable creatures, especially while other divers are present.
That’s what Dylan Miller, 19, did during a recent dive, and the episode went viral. Critics surfaced on dive sites, blogs and social media platforms, hammering Miller even though he had a fishing license and did not violate any laws.
He said he killed the 80-pound octopus to draw it for an art project, and for its meat. But he has since received threats and, like an octopus, is trying to keep a low profile.
“They value the life of an octopus and they are threatening a family,” Denise Mayer, Dylan’s mom, told the Seattle Times. “They put his life below that of an octopus. It’s gone way overboard.”
The story first appeared on the Northwest Dive Club website on the day of the capture, on Halloween.
A witness posted a complaint that Miller not only grabbed the enormous mollusk and hauled it out of the water, he punched it in the head, or mantle area, and bragged that he might be back soon to catch others.
The witness blogger, under the name Grateful Diver, stated that during his confrontation with Miller, Miller boasted: “It’s legal, and there’s lots of them down there. I might come back tomorrow and get another one.”
Divers were so enraged that they created a petition to “Save the GPO” from being harvested in the region, as the giant Pacific octopus is regarded as an icon throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The Daily Mail in the U.K. quoted witness Bob Bailey as saying, “It’s just not done. It’s bad form. Even if you can do it, you shouldn’t do it.”
The giant Pacific octopus is the world’s largest octopus. The largest known specimen measured 30 feet across.
They’re are known for their ability to change colors and blend with their surroundings, and for their intelligence. Captive specimens have learned to open jars and solve puzzles.
Cove 2 divers regard their site as a marine park, where creatures should be observed and not captured, even though it’s not officially designated as a protected park.
A Washington state game warden investigated the case and determined no laws were broken.
Denise Mayer said the home telephone has been ringing so often that she answers with the greeting, “Octo-Mom.”
Mayer told the Seattle Times that he punched the mollusk because it had wrapped its arms around his mask, nose and mouth. (State law mandates that the only way octopuses can be harvested is by hand, an extreme challenge when the specimen in question weighs 80 pounds.)
“I do feel sorry,” Mayer said. “If I would have known that these people were that protective over it, I wouldn’t have done it.”
But, he added: “If people feel this strongly about it they obviously need to voice it and a sign needs to go up and make it a park. But I don’t think all of Puget Sound should be off-limits. That is like saying you like deer so there should be no hunting, or you like cows, so there should be no meat.”
–Images of Dylan Miller with his giant Pacific octopus are courtesy of Mark S. (top) and Scott L./ Rapture of the Deep Photography.
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