A 20-year-old scuba diver who dragged a live octopus onto shore in Seattle, Washington, and took it home for his dinner has faced death threats over the incident – even though what he did was completely legal.
Dylan Mayer was photographed by angry divers when he emerged from the water with a giant Pacific octopus, still writhing in his hands, on November 1.
He was photographed tossing the octopus onto the bed of his truck and driving off.
Photos of a grinning Mr Mayer measuring the cephalopod on the floor of his garage were later posted to his Facebook page.
The photos circulated around the diving community and a storm of outrage erupted.
"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 Mr 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 urged divers and other residents to sign a petition banning the harvesting of giant Pacific octopuses.
The cephalopods are admired by marine experts for their intelligence and ability to change colour to match their surrounds.
Recreational scuba divers who visit Puget Sound, off the coast of Seattle, marvel at their curious and playful nature.
The Pacific octopus is not protected, authorities say, but it is not usually hunted for food either.
But Mr Mayer defended his actions.
"I eat it for meat. It's not different from fishing. It's just a different animal," he told local TV news outlet Komo News.
He said the original idea was to catch an octopus for a friend's art project.
"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," he said.
Mr Mayer has since received dozens of threatening phone calls and abusive emails, he said, and even been banned from several diver shops over the incident.
Wendy Willette, the game warden who inspected the catch, said that Mr Mayer acted within the law but he could have done so with more sensitivity.
"I think the timing, manner and place where the harvest occurred may be the issue. It could have been done at a better time," she said.
"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 divers and people if you're going to be a sportsman."
Author: Erin Tennant.
Source: Komo News.