Octopus hunter: 'It's no different than fishing'

SEATTLE -- The man behind a controversial killing of an octopus says he has received death threats over the incident even though the catch was completely legal.

Angry divers took photos of Dylan Mayer holding the octopus he had caught. The photos captured 20-year-old Mayer and his friend on the shore, tossing the octopus onto the bed of his truck then being measured on the floor of his garage.

Mayer said he can't make sense of the controversy surrounding his catch.

"I eat it for meat. It's no different than fishing. It's just a different animal," he said.

The idea to catch an octopus came from a friend's art project, Mayer said.

"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.

Scuba divers from all over the world visit Puget Sound in hopes of seeing the native giant Pacific octopus. But many divers say what Mayer did to an octopus at Cove Two in West Seattle on Wednesday was not neighborly at all.

"As they were coming in, you could tell the octopus was alive. It was writhing around, and they were wrestling with it," said witness Bob Bailey.

The uproar has not stopped since they hit shore, according to Mayer, who said he has received dozens of threatening phone calls and hate-filled emails. He said he has been demonized in the diving community, especially after some divers claimed he had caught a female octopus that had been sitting on her legs.

"That's not true. There were no eggs under it, and we checked," he said. "I even had a game warden come over and look at it, and even they said there was no problem with it."

The involved game warden, Wendy Willette, said Mayer did not do anything wrong.

"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 drivers and people if you're going to be a sportsman."

Mayer said he would likely do thinks differently if he could do it all over again.

"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."

Mayer said he has been banned from several dive shops in Washington state. He said his life-long dream of becoming a rescue diver is now in jeopardy as several diving schools have denied him admission in the wake of the controversial catch.