'I eat it for meat... it's just a different animal': Outrage as diver, 20, drags LIVE octopus from ocean and takes it home for dinner
Controversy: Dylan Mayer proudly displays the octopus he caught
A rising tide of outrage is forming after pictures emerged of a 20-year-old diver who dragged a giant Pacific octopus from its watery home and then killed and ate it for his friends art project.
Angry fellow divers from the shore of Seattle took photographs of Dylan Mayer proudly standing with the large octopus and then watched in disbelief as he and his friend tossed the still live 30 pound female onto the bed of his truck before driving off.
Their shock turned to horror as a grinning Mayer posted images of himself measuring the now dead octopus onto his Facebook account and now is in the position of having to justify to the diving community why he hunted the gentle and intelligent animal.
'As they were coming in you could tell the octopus was alive. It was writhing around and they were wrestling with it,' said Bob Bailey who witnessed Mayer bring the octopus to shore.
'It's just not done. It's bad form. Even if you can do it, you shouldn't do it.'
Local activists photographed Mr Mayer's catch and posted the photos on their website and urged outraged residents to sign a petition banning the harvesting of giant Pacific octopuses.
Admired by marine experts for their agile intelligence and ability to change colour to match their surroundings, the giant Pacific octopus is not protected but is not usually hunted for food.
However, Mayer defended his decision to catch the cephalopod, claiming that his friend needed his help.
'I eat it for meat. It's no different than fishing. It's just a different animal,' said Mayer to Komo News.
Scroll Down for Video
Fresh catch: Mr Mayer loaded the live cephalopod into the back of his pickup truck
Food? Mr Mayer said he planned to eat to octopus and that catching it was no different than catching an eating a fish
HOW SMART IS AN OCTOPUS?
- In the wild and captivity octopuses have been observed expressing examples of spatial learning, navigational abilities and even observational learning.
- While their exact level of intelligence is the cause of massive debate among marine biologists - some estimate that octopuses are as intelligent if not more so than dogs
- In experiments, octopuses can be trained to distinguish between shapes and patterns and have indulged in play - which is a hall mark of intelligent creatures
- In some instances, octopuses have been noted to have escaped from their tanks in aquariums and eaten fish from others tanks in the same room before returning to their original tank as if nothing has happened
'He wanted me to get something from nature, so I got an octopus. I caught it, and then these divers came up and started yelling at me. I ignored them and ended up driving away.'
Thousands of scuba divers from across the world visit Puget Sound off the coast of Seattle in the hope of seeing the giant Pacific octopus.
'They’re incredibly intelligent, curious, very playful,' said avid diver Drew Collins.
The uproar caused by Mayer has led to the 20-year-old receiving dozens of threatening phone calls and abusive emails.
The wannabe rescue diver has said that he has been demonised by the local scuba community and has had to deny claims that the octopus was sitting on eggs when he captured her.
'That's not true. There were no eggs under it, and we checked,' said Mayer.
'I even had a game warden come over and look at it, and even they said there was no problem with it.'
In Washington state Octopus hunting is legal with a license and is limited to one a day, however Mayer admitted if he had the chance he would do things differently.
'I probably would have gone at a different time. I probably would have gone to another area of Cove Two,' he said.
'The bottom line is another octopus will move up into that area and take its place.'
The game warden who inspected the catch also said that that despite doing nothing wrong, Mayer could have acted with more sensitivity.
Legal: Game wardens said the catch was completely legal and that the diver was within his rights to harvest the animal
Dylan Mayer measures out the dead octopus on the floor of his garage in Seattle
'I think the timing, manner and place where the harvest occurred may be the issue. It could have been done at a better time,' said Wendy Willette.
'It's like deer hunting. You don't kill a deer while kids are viewing it, and I think it's a similar problem here. You need to be sensitive to other drivers and people if you're going to be a sportsman.'
Indeed, Mayer told Komo News that he has now been banned from several diver shops in the Seattle area because of the octopus hunt.
He said that his dream of becoming a rescue-diver is in jeopardy because he has been banned from several diving schools because of his actions.