Dead sea lion had bullet-like holes

A rugged stretch of coast near John Daly Boulevard in Daly City became a marine mammal mortuary Tuesday, littered with a harbor porpoise corpse and what appeared to be the bullet-riddled body of a sea lion.

The Marine Mammal Center collected the 150-pound porpoise less than one mile south of the beach ladder at Fort Funston for analysis, center spokesman Jim Oswald said. A similar analysis of a dead pregnant harbor porpoise found in the area last month could not determine what killed the mammal, Oswald said.

But law enforcement and parks officials said they were unaware of the dead sea lion also found on Thornton Beach south of Fort Funston.

The sea lion’s head and torso were peppered with holes, similar to bullet wounds, but Oswald said the wounds could have been caused by decomposition or birds after the animal died.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, shooters can be fined but the cases are difficult to prosecute, Oswald said.

If the holes are determined to have been caused by bullets then the law enforcement arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will investigate, NOAA spokesman Jim Milbury said.

But if the sea lion appears to have died of natural causes and the California Department of Parks and Recreation decides not to send the body for tests, it will likely be buried in the sand, Milbury said.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

Examiner Staff Writer Will Reisman contributed to this report.

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