Man Punches Octopus, Feels Remorse, Calls for Ban on Killing Octopi

Giant Pacific octopi aren't endangered, but Seattle residents are calling for new laws that would prohibit hunting them.
Giant Pacific octopi are revered by Seattle residents who don't want them hunted locally. (Photo: Stuart Westmorland/Getty Images)
Nov 11, 2012· 1 MIN READ
A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades has previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and a medical writer.

In a story we don’t get to report often enough, Washington state regulatory agencies are considering a ban on hunting giant Pacific octopi, not because the species is endangered, but simply because the sea creature is revered by the Seattle community.

More odd and less wonderful is that the proposal for the ban was initiated after a local diver punched an octopus that he was in the throes of hunting.

Dylan Mayer reported to The Seattle Times that he went to the “Cove 2” area of Seacrest Park in Seattle to lawfully hunt one of its many giant Pacific octopi. A college student and frequent diver in the area, Mayer said he wanted draw the animal for an art class and then eat it.

According to the paper, state laws require that divers only use their hands to hunt the creatures.

And when the 80-pound animal wrapped itself around Mayer’s mask, nose and mouth, he used the only tools he had at his disposal― his fists.

Having already partially surfaced, other area divers and visitors in the park witnessed Mayer punch the octopus and they became incensed.

And so we arrive at the horribly uncomfortable but necessary question: is hitting any worse than other legally-sanctioned methods of hunting animals for food? If the laws allowed it, would it have been more humane to shoot the octopus?

As Mayer explained to the Times, "You are just wrestling with it. It wraps around you, and you try to get it to shore before you drown."

Though Mayer was abiding by laws related to hunting octopus, news of the incident spread through social media channels. What followed was a public outcry for changes to local legislation. The Cove 2 is not officially a protected park, but residents say it ought to be and the hunting of its octopi banned.

When the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) held a public hearing on the matter, about 40 area residents showed up to support the ban. Most surprising is that among them was Mayer himself who told the commission, “I didn’t know they were so beloved, or I wouldn’t have done it."

While WDFW puts the legal process in motion to change fishing and hunting laws specific to Seacrest Park, a petition is circulating calling for an emergency law to go into action now. The WDFW contends it can’t legally enact an emergency ban because octopus populations are nowhere near endangered. So residents will just have to be patient.

Nonetheless, in our current culture, where sea creatures are shamelessly exploited for our own gains, and animals are often tortured for entertainment or commerce, it’s exhilarating to watch a community of people spontaneously unite to protect a species simply because they love it.

Do you think the residents are overreacting to an incident of legal hunting, or should the octopi be protected? Let us know in the Comments.