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A teenager takes on a giant Pacific Octopus and hate rains down from adults

Bevis Chin
A Giant Pacific Octopus, similar to the one harvested by Dylan Mayer on October 31, 2012.

This story originally aired on September 22, 2018.   

Back in 2012 Dylan Mayer was 19 years old. He was a few years into a new passion: scuba diving. He says spending time under water in Puget Sound is like visiting an alien planet full of strange creatures.

“There is a large fish down there called a Cabazon. It’s a large fish. It’s and ugly fish. And, it will come right up to you. It will nudge you with it’s nose and its face. It’s very curious about what you are,” said Dylan.

Dylan grew up in Maple Valley Washington, just outside of the liberal blue bubble of Seattle. Dylan learned young how to hunt and do farm work.

On October 31, 2012 he set out to marry his love of scuba diving with his desire to be self sufficient and harvest his own food. That gray morning, the goal was to pluck a giant pacific octopus from its den, wrestle it to the surface and take it home for dinner.

He and a friend headed to the popular dive site at Cove 2 in West Seattle. With his bare hands, Dylan caught an 80 pound cephalopod.

“The key is to stay calm. Once you start to panic, you’ll drown,” said Dylan, recalling his 45 minute hand to tentacle battle with the ocopus.

But when he hauled it out of the water, people nearby didn’t look very happy. Dylan and his dive partner threw the  the octopus in the back of their truck and quickly left the scene.

Even though what Dylan did was perfectly legal and even though octopus is on restaurant menus all over the Northwest, the taking of this particular octopus touched a nerve.

Adult members of the diving community that Dylan was so excited to be a part of not only roundly rejected him, but also threatened to kill him and his family.

One diver from the Cove 2 community rose above the vitriol to mentor this young diver.

In this story, we’ll hear about the importance of second chances and about how one event in a young person’s life can have lasting consequences.


Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.