- Published on Monday, 05 November 2012 11:44
- Written by Rick Stratton
- Hits: 14770
A Maple Valley diver harvested an octopus at one of West Seattle’s most popular dive sites in late October, stirring a hot controversy in the Pacific Northwest dive community.
19 year old Dylan Mayer and his buddy legally took an octopus by hand as required by game fishing regulations. Local divers/dive instructors Bob Bailey and Scott Lundy witnessed the battle and confronted Mayer and his buddy as they dragged the large octopus ashore. According to Bailey, the confrontation didn’t go well. "He basically told me that what he was doing was perfectly legal and that I should mind my own business. The confrontation quickly escalated, Mayer put the still writhing animal in the back of his truck and departed the area." Bailey explained. Undaunted, Bailey took photos and quickly posted them on social media, igniting a storm of controversy within the local dive community. Other divers quickly picked up on the tread, and reposted the story and other links online. Some divers made personal attacks at Mayer calling what he did illegal and immoral. Fanned by the online postings, the he story quickly grew and went viral.
Lawfully, what Mayer did was not wrong. Octopuses are allowed to be taken at that site or within the greater Puget Sound. Other divers challenge that the site is a widely known one and most divers consider it an “unofficial” underwater park.
Over the next few days, the photos and controversy of the personal attacks on Mayer grew. As the story went viral, divers found Mayer’s personal information online and quickly pounced on him, pummeling him with phone calls at home and work. According to Mayer’s Mom Denise, the confrontations were not pleasant, and mostly did not go well. Mayer makes no apologies for his honest reaction to the confrontations.
Local dive instructor Scott Lundy also witnessed the harvesting and while emotionally distraught about the killing of an octopus at the site, decided to take a different approach. Lundy and others divers have formed a group to work with the Washington Scuba Alliance (WSA), a 501-3C diver association whose mission is to help protect the rights and access for divers state wide. Lundy has also started an online petition to protect the site. This site is special. Cove 2 is a very popular site said Lundy. Divers come from all across the area to dive here. They come to see Giant Pacific Octopus and other marine life you can see at the site. We all treat the site like a park – we need to protect Cove 2 and make it an official marine protected area.
Working with WSA and Northwest Dive News, the petition has quickly grown, as of this writing the petition has more than 3800 signatures. Lundy and some divers intend to speak in Olympia on Thursday at 8:45am at the Department of Fish and Wildlife last open forum meeting to decide next year’s fish and game regulations.
To view the petition online – click here.