West Seattle sea-lion deaths: Feds confirm at least five were shot

Followup on the story we published yesterday about sea lions found dead on West Seattle shores (also updated late last night on the Seal Sitters’ site): We just talked with Brian Gorman at the National Marine Fisheries Service. He says that preliminary necropsy results show that at least five dead sea lions found in the past week in this area had been shot. (Inset photo, courtesy of Will, is from an on-beach necropsy south of Alki Point yesterday.) One, Gorman says, was a federally protected Steller sea lion – a species not commonly seen in Puget Sound. (Seal Sitters wrote about that sea lion’s death [scroll down].) “This is unusual,” he says. “We’ve turned over the evidence to our enforcement folks … We’ll certainly be tracking this.” he says. Investigators have no idea yet where these animals were shot, by whom, and why (no specifics yet on the type of gun/s that were used, either). There’s a chance there are more; Gorman says they’ve received reports of “floating carcasses,” though they might have been multiple sightings of the ones that already have washed up.

Regarding whether these shootings would be treated as a crime, he explains, “There are instances where you could shoot a sea lion if it were threatening your life, and there are a few tribes that have permits to shoot sea lions [in fishing circumstances] … Certainly not Stellers.” NMFS usually gets one or two reports of sea-lion shootings each year, he says, but “it is certainly very unusual for us to get this many.” Quoting the Seal Sitters website: “If a marine mammal is being harassed or harmed, call NOAA Enforcement Hotline, 800-853-1964. If there is imminent danger, call 911.”

32 Replies to "West Seattle sea-lion deaths: Feds confirm at least five were shot"

  • Kayleigh February 12, 2010 (9:46 am)

    Unbelievably vile.

  • LovingWS February 12, 2010 (9:47 am)

    Absolutely HORRIBLE!!! I’m at a loss for words.

  • sad February 12, 2010 (9:57 am)

    This makes my heart hurt. Now its not enough as humans to shoot at another we have to take our violent ways out on defenseless wild animals. The gifts of our Earth. What kind of World are we living in? What did these animals do to anyone? I bet it was for pure sport off of one of those boats. This makes me sick and sad. I feel as if they will never catch or care to catch who did this – yet if it was a human shot the results would be swift. Hopefully they can take the bullets and make a concerted effort to find who did this and bring them to justice.

  • Will February 12, 2010 (10:13 am)

    I was the one that sent in the pictures. It just is really concerning and I hope the community is equally as upset as I am.

    • WSB February 12, 2010 (10:20 am)

      And thanks again to Will for sharing the photos. This one’s definitely headed out for citywide-media coverage, too – as part of our partnership with the Seattle Times, we let them know when we have a story they might want to link to, and I sent them this link right away – it’s up on the Times home page now, and they’re working on their own followup. I’d be surprised if TV does not jump in as well – I remember a spate of sea-lion shootings covered back in my TV years, and it was considered a pretty big deal … TR … and before I hit publish on this comment, I got a call from a TV reporter who’d like to use Will’s photos; I’m sending you a note now, Will.

  • Zgh2676 February 12, 2010 (10:14 am)

    What a waste.

  • funkiettoo February 12, 2010 (10:17 am)

    Unacceptable on so many levels. Keep thinking about how much these sea lions suffered before dying.

  • Big Chief King Salmon February 12, 2010 (10:26 am)

    Thanks for helping me take out a terrible predator.
    Kill em all.
    I am just a lonely defensless Salmon.What with all the killer whales dying from the likes of Boeing and other Puget sound polluters I don’t stand a chance for survival.
    There are plenty more sea lions than there are Salmon.
    Kill em and kill em good.

  • Izzolaw February 12, 2010 (10:52 am)

    Mmmm…perhaps, Big Chief King Salmon, we should find you, catch you, douse you in butter and lemon and toss you on the barbecue you this weekend. Obviously you are truly a cold-blooded creature…

  • Cheryl February 12, 2010 (10:54 am)

    I’m with @Kayleigh – VILE.

    Sea Lions may be pesky sometimes, but shooting them is NO solution. What the hell is wrong w/ people?

  • CA February 12, 2010 (11:49 am)

    This makes me so sick to my stomach!! I agree with sads comment. I am a huge animal activist and what type of pathetic person would/could do this. This is why the world has so many issues, some people are so disgusting!!!!!!!

  • I. Ponder February 12, 2010 (11:53 am)

    Us humans are the most pesky and dangerous animal on the planet. What separates us from all the other creatures is that we justify and rationalize our own bad behavior.

  • Izzolaw February 12, 2010 (12:00 pm)

    It really does baffle me. It’s one thing to shoot an animal for subsistence — not that I ever could. But to do so because they are getting in the way somehow? That is truly pathetic. It’s too bad the perpetrator doesn’t read this blog — I’m sure reading, much less using a computer, is not part of his/her skill set.

  • Traci February 12, 2010 (12:03 pm)

    This is heartbreaking.

  • BB February 12, 2010 (12:03 pm)

    This is sickening.

  • wrong February 12, 2010 (12:07 pm)

    After reading the comment above from the sea lion hater – it makes me think it was probably someone fishing for Salmon who was mad that he couldn’t compete with the likes of the sea lion for his catch. Typical of us to think that we can bring order to nature. While these creatures are honed to survive and this is the food they survive on – for hundreds upon hundreds of years. Long before we came and tore down the forests to put our roads and homes up. Yet they still endure.

    In the words of Chief Seattle:

    ‘What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.”
    – Chief Seattle, Suqwamish and Duwamish

  • Claire j February 12, 2010 (12:28 pm)

    It is horrible. Wasn’t there a thing in the news last year about sea lions being trapped and shot near a salmon run? Just wonder if there is a connection.

  • MargL February 12, 2010 (12:40 pm)

    Back in May of 2008 there were reports of sea lions being shot to death on the Columbia River but then they examined the bodies and didn’t find evidence of bullets wounds. They did say someone apparently closed the cages and the sea lions died of dehydration or stress.


  • Aaron February 12, 2010 (12:47 pm)

    This is awful, but I never quite understand why people only care about sea creatures if they’re mammals. I highly recommend this short article regarding the dramatic effect we are having on an ecosystem we know little about. http://civileats.com/2010/01/14/fisheries-at-the-end-of-the-line-a-review/

  • k February 12, 2010 (1:17 pm)


  • marty February 12, 2010 (1:31 pm)

    I am offended by your attempt to blame this on salmon fisherman. I have fished for years and have many friends who also fish. None of us would ever think of shooting a marine mammal. If you have a shred of evidence that this was done by a salmon fisherman, please share it with us.

  • Jeff February 12, 2010 (1:36 pm)

    I doubt there is any evidence of anything marty. Everyone just wants to blame their boogeyman of choice. Over on the PI story everyone wants to blame “right wing gun nuts”. Regardless of who it was, they are looking at serious time I’d think. I hope they are caught soon.

  • herewego February 12, 2010 (5:13 pm)

    the comment does not refer to salmon fishermen at all – it refers to the comment about ‘shooting them all’ on behalf of salmon. Sorry if you took offense, we love the salmon fishermen.

  • Mary T Sheely February 12, 2010 (6:09 pm)

    This makes me absolutely sad.

  • Living in West Seattle Since 1985 February 12, 2010 (6:31 pm)

    Terrible!!! The punishment should fit the crime!!!

  • BMC February 13, 2010 (8:01 am)

    Horrible. Does anyone know where exactly this occurred?

    • WSB February 13, 2010 (8:15 am)

      They washed up in different places that haven’t all been publicly specified to my knowledge, and investigators are trying to determine where and when they were actually shot. The photo is from Constellation Park, which is, as noted in the credit info, south of Alki Point.

  • SeaLuva February 13, 2010 (2:02 pm)

    All Seals/Sea-lions are Salmon murderers!!! Thank You for protecting our Salmon. God Bless you!! And now I’m gonna get back to that Seal song: “…but we’re never gonna survive, unless, we are a little crazy” I love that song…

  • Izzolaw February 13, 2010 (4:05 pm)

    You are one sick puppy, SeaLuva.

  • scott February 13, 2010 (5:02 pm)

    This is terrible. Hopefully the perpetrators will be caught.

    A few days ago we saw something floating with the current along our sea wall northbound toward Alki. Couldn’t tell at all what it was – a log, a plastic barrel, part of a dock, etc. Now we know it was clearly one of the victims. Very sad.

  • olivia c. lyons February 18, 2010 (9:39 am)

    the assumption that this crime was committed by a salmon fisherman is probably not wrong. all of the citations handed out since the Marine Mammal Protection Act, 1972 have all been to fishermen. some examples:



    or the capt. who threw a bomb into a sea lions mouth: http://articles.latimes.com/1993-08-01/news/mn-19200_1_sea-lion

    sea lions HAVE to eat to survive, no one HAS to eat salmon. yet fishermen continue to kill sea lions so they can kill more salmon. huh? and they call sea lions the aggressive ones.

  • olivia c. lyons February 18, 2010 (9:46 am)

    the 4 california sea lions and 2 stellars that were found at the bonneville dam in the spring of 2008 were originally reported as shot. for whatever reason the story changed, however, those animals did not die from heat exhaustion.

    the door ‘malfunctioned’ sometime in the evening, then the next MORNING they were found dead. is it possible for six sea lions to die from heat exhaustion over night when there isn’t even any sun out?

Sorry, comment time is over.