Some of the best places in the world to see the giant Pacific octopus in its natural habitat are the coves and parks on Puget Sound (also, my natural habitat). There are lots of popular dive sites, and my idea of internet porn is watching videos taken by amateurs, like this one:
Isn’t that gorgeous?
So you can imagine local divers’ reactions when a diver was spotted rising from a West Seattle dive site holding a magnificent 80 lb. octopus and beating it to death. They were not happy. These are informally regarded as safe habitats, where everyone can view the lovely giant invertebrates, and trust that others will respect and protect the environment.
The brute, Dylan Mayer, claims that killing the octopus was an “art project” at Green River Community College, and seems to think it justifies the killing by saying he cut it up for meat…meat which he apparently gave away to other people. I think maybe his art class ought to reconsider what represents a valid contribution, if this was an official project in any way. Also, to add to Mayer’s charm, people rummaged around on his facebook page and discovered photos of him kicking animals. Another art project, perhaps?
Unfortunately, Mayer is in the clear and what he did was perfectly legal: the Washington Department of Fish and Game issues “one-day hunting licenses” — if you’re feeling a little sadistic, or “artistic”, you can apply for one of these and then visit some of the local octopus habitat and batter a cephalopod to death, no problem.
There is a petition to get Fish and Game to stop aiding and abetting the destruction of Washington’s natural resources. It would be nice of you to sign it, but don’t expect much change. I’m beginning to get the impression that many people opt for careers in wildlife biology not because they love and want to protect nature, but because they want a front-row seat for killing it.
(Wildlife biologists with integrity are welcome to disagree — I expect you’ll sign the petition first, of course.)