Crime Scene: Sea Lion Shot and Killed

Stranded Sea Lion

An adult female sea lion was found dead on Venice Beach on August 3. She had been shot three times.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting, as killing a marine mammal is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which can result in a $100,000 fine and a year in prison.

It can be difficult to track down the perpetrators because the crime typically occurs far out at sea where there are few witnesses. Animals attacked may travel miles from the scene of the crime before washing up on shore.

Marine Animal Rescue is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever killed this sea lion. According to Marine Animal Rescue, some fishermen have been known to kill seals, sea lions and pelicans because they view them as a threat to their livelihoods. Some shoot the animals while others use "California seal control devices," otherwise known as seal bombs.

Those with information about the shooting or any other violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act can contact the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 853-1964. 

In addition, sea lions are threatened by domoic acid, a powerful neurotoxin produced by a specific group of microscopic algae that sometimes blooms in coastal waters. Marine mammals such as sea lions eating fish laden with toxin can ingest sufficient domoic acid in the stomachs of their prey to experience symptoms of domoic acid poisoning. These symptoms can include a variety of neurological disorders including disorientation and seizures, and in severe cases, death.

The Marine Mammal Center in Northern California provides a seven-step guide to what to do if you find a stranded marine mammal.