LAGUNA BEACH (CNS) - The Pacific Marine Mammal Center announced today that a sea lion shot with a pellet gun had to be euthanized and encouraged people to find other more humane ways of dealing with the animals if they are a nuisance.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration turned the case over to its law enforcement arm on Monday.
The 18-month-old female sea lion, named Mandalorian by her rescuers, was found in distress at the Wedge in Newport Beach on the morning of Dec. 16 and brought to the center for treatment, but her health declined to the point she had to be put down on Dec. 22, , according to the center's Krysta Higuchi.
The pellets were lodged between the rib and vertebrae, according to a necropsy. The center's experts believe the wound grew infected, which led to “severe muscle necrosis” as well as an “accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity,” Higuchi said.
The pellets were sent to the NOAA, she said.
There have been nine documented cases of sea lions being shot over the past 20 years in Orange County, but it hadn't happened locally since 2010, Higuchi said.
If someone shot Mandalorian because they considered the sea lion a pest, Higuchi said the center wanted residents to rely on non-lethal forms of dealing with the animals.
“There are a lot of non-lethal deterrents we encourage boat owners to use,” Higuchi said. “It's their ocean, too. It's their home and we need to learn to share.”
Peter Chang, the mammal center's chief executive, said the shooting of sea lions is a trend.
“Unfortunately, what we saw is taking place up and down the Pacific Coast,” Chang said. “These are disgusting and intentional acts, many of which are premeditated. We know there are many out there that feel like they are competing with the sea lions for the same resources. However, there's a pathway for us to cohabitate with these precious marine mammals, and shooting them is not the way.”
Photo: Pacific Marine Mammal Center