GPO Debate Update

GPO. Taken by yours truly at the Seattle Aquarium.

Suggested blog reading music: Octopuses Garden by the Beatles.

In an article written yesterday, the Seattle Times quoted Dylan Mayer, the diver who killed the GPO at Cove II, saying that he killed this particular GPO because he felt like it was new to the area and “was extremely aggressive” and “not friendly”. As a new diver with no science background, I for one am not sure if I believe Mayer’s analysis of GPO behavior. Even if it was aggressive, I don’t think these are grounds for killing the animal. It is likely that this GPO was aggressive (if at all) because females were around, or a female was guarding eggs nearby, as GPO spawning occurs throughout the year (NPRB Final Report, March 2012). Or perhaps it was defending itself from Mayer? The GPO has been confirmed as a male by the WA Game Warden.

While I agree people have taken this debate too far by threatening Mayer’s life etc., his behavior has not helped the situation. Mayer allegedly returned to Alki this Friday in attempts to kill another GPO, even after major backlash from the diving community. He claims that if someone had approached him nicely, he would have put the GPO back. Mayer confirmed that he did actually eat the meat and stated “he wanted to take it home to draw it for an art project”.

GPO suckers with my finger for scale. Taken by yours truly at the Seattle Aquarium

At least people are taking notice of current GPO harvesting rules and encouraging the City of Seattle and WDFW to make Alki a MPA and evaluate the effects of harvest on GPO populations. I am personally going to focus my energy on encouraging more research on GPOs in WA. Perhaps that’s my next project?


North Pacific Research Board Project Final Report, March 2012.


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