THE Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is poised to flex its regulatory tentacles in the aftermath of a controversial hunt in Seacrest Park, a divers’ haven in West Seattle and home to the world’s largest octopus species.

Good.

Nineteen-year-old Dylan Mayer didn’t break any laws when he caught and harvested a Pacific octopus on Halloween Day.

But he broke a code understood by most other divers familiar with the area: The Pacific octopus is a beloved underwater creature that should be viewed, but not killed.

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The community-college student was confronted on the beach by a more experienced diver. Several images of the octopus — with its limp tentacles dangling over the hunter’s arms — went viral on the Internet.

According to Seattle Times news stories, Mayer’s mother has received threats against her son.

In an effort to add a bit of levity to a serious situation, she has responded to the barrage of phone calls at their Maple Valley home by calling herself “Octo-Mom.”

A little “squid pro quo” ought to quell the overreaction to this sea tale.

Mayer regrets the episode and has publicly expressed his remorse. Humbled following a week of criticism and getting nicknamed “octopus boy” by diving bloggers, he personally appeared before the Fish and Wildlife Commission this week to call for a ban on harvesting giant octopus at the site where he was caught in action.

He reportedly told the panel, “I didn’t know they were so beloved, or I wouldn’t have done it.”

In turn, divers and others upset about the incident should forgive his inexperience.

The department should develop a sensible policy, whether that means placing some limits on harvesting or designating certain areas as marine preserves.