Two marine mammals, a sea otter and an elephant seal, were found decapitated this week on Morro Strand State Beach. California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) wardens are currently investigating the incident but believe the skulls were intentionally taken, a criminal act.
It is unlawful to remove or possess any parts of sea otters, elephant seals or other state or federally protected species, even if found dead. Both sea otters and elephant seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In addition, the sea otter is listed as a fully protected species under California law and as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
A DFG biologist discovered the otter on the morning of April 7 adjacent to the Morro Strand campground and found the young elephant seal a short distance away on April 8. The biologist believes the heads had been removed between April 6 in the evening and the morning of April 7.
DFG encourages anyone with information that may help solve this crime to call 1-888-DFG-CALTIP (1-888-334-2258). Callers may remain anonymous.