Washington State's New Hunting Regs: Don't Punch an Octopus in Public
In response to the outrage from the general public regarding a man who killed an octopus last October, the Washington Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Commission voted unanimously on Aug. 2 to prohibit recreational hunting at seven scuba diving sites in the Puget Sound area.
As Stephanie Mallory reported last fall, Dylan Mayer went hunting legally for an octopus at Cove 2 in West Seattle because he wanted to use the octopus for a college art project, and later eat it . He said, in a Seattle Times article, that he chose that octopus because he had not seen it before and it didn't look like one of the regulars he'd noticed while diving previously.
Octopus must be hunted by hand. No sharp instruments are allowed. The 80-pound octopus put up a fight and wrapped its tentacles around Mayer's mask, nose, and mouth. His ensuing wrestling match with the creature sparked the outrage (and of course, photos of the incident) and consequently, three petitions to protect the dive areas of Puget Sound from octopus hunting. The petitions recommended outlawing octopus hunting or making the Puget Sound dive areas protected. The WDFW stated it received the petitions signed by hundreds of scuba divers and other members of the public seeking protection for octopuses from recreational harvest. It then worked with a 12-member citizens' advisory group and accepted comments until May 31.
The commission compromised. Octopus hunters may continue to take one octopus per day, but not in the seven designated protected areas. According to ABC News, sport fishers wanted to keep all the rules in place, while many divers wanted the ban. Craig Burley, who works for the Fish and Wildlife's fish management program, stated that the harvest for octopus is very small.
"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," said Mayer, in the Seattle Times' article.
And, for the record, an octopus catches its prey with its tentacles, holds it there, and then tears it apart with its retractable beak. Then, it uses its radula (barbed tongue) to scrape animals from their shells. And, according to Curiosity.com, An octopus also is armed with a salivary papilla, which is a tooth-covered organ that can erode shells with its secretion and drill into them with its teeth.
That's probably not such a pretty thing to see, either. That might turn a few stomachs and cause a few petitions to be signed, too.