What would you do if you saw someone drag a Giant Pacific Octopus out of the water, repeatedly hit it on the head, then throw it into the back of his pickup truck? What would you do knowing that what he was doing was completely legal? This is the dilemma that has spurred a public outcry to protect these intelligent and distinguished creatures in Seattle’s Cove 2 dive site at Seacrest Park.
The controversy with legally collecting the Great Pacific Octopus comes with the respect most divers have for this unique animal. Unlike a fish, crab, clam or scallop, the octopus has shown a higher learning capacity than other marine organisms, often investigating and playing with the divers around them. This iconic experience has made Cove 2 a popular eco-tourism destination for any divers wishing to experience this creature firsthand.
Scientists and aquarists have been busy studying these animals, both in the wild and in captivity, to better understand their level of intelligence, and most agree this animal is a conscious being capable of learning and playing. Due to the respect for this animal and the public outcry to stop the hunting of it, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are considering designating Seacrest Park as a marine park and may even ban all Great Pacific Octopus hunting in Washington State! A win for the conservationists and animal lovers alike!
*If you want to help save this iconic species from being hunted in Seacrest park then take action and sign the petition today!
Despite the call for action brought on by those divers that love the Giant Pacific Octopus, what of other species that may be in worse shape ecologically, but are still allowed to be collected both commercially and or recreationally? There are many marine species including aquarium reef fish and corals, and several species of grouper, tuna, salmon and sharks that are removed from their habitat on a daily basis throughout the world, yet have no major public outcry for their protection. Many of these species are understudied and their influence on the environment may not even be known or understood yet!
There are small conservation groups, much like Speak Up For Blue, that share their knowledge and urge people to make a personal decision not to eat or buy certain marine species, but there are very few actions taken towards protecting them on an individual basis. Who is to say that any organism is better than another, or more worthy of protection, due to it’s level of intelligence? If every diver in every popular dive spot in the world petitioned their local agencies as they did in Washington State, then maybe our oceans would be a better place for all species regardless of intelligence or iconic standing. Only time will tell and it is up to everyone to Speak Up for these animals that have no voice before it is too late!