Sea Lion's Mysterious Death Probed

Sea lion's body was spotted near Children's Pool in La Jolla

Animal-rights activists are demanding an investigation into the death of a sea lion that may have been shot off the coast of La Jolla.

Video shot by local animal-rights activist Marjane Alan shows the body of a sea lion with what appears to be a gunshot wound to its torso. The dead animal was found by tourists off the coast of La Jolla -- near Wipeout Beach just south of the Children's Pool -- late last week.

"It looked like a bullet hole, yes it did," said Barbara Cross, who dedicates time every week to watching after the seals at the Children's Pool. She said she's outraged by the apparent attack. "It's kind of appalling that people are out there just shooting the animals for the sake of it.... This is not the first time I've heard of it, but this is the first time I've seen actual video of something like this."

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman said the agency responded to the incident but didn't recover the animal's body because it was in an unsafe location. Officials said they planned on interviewing witnesses but stressed that it's not uncommon for a carcass to wash ashore with injuries from scavenger animals that look similar to a gunshot wound.

Still, some people said escalating tension over whether the seals at the Children's Pool should stay or go could have driven someone to violence.

"People get passionate about the strangest things," said Michelle Bergman who is visiting the area from Ventura County. "And they get a crazy idea, someone eggs them on, then one thing leads to another."

The NOAA spokesman said officials with the agency may also review the video of the dead animal as part of their investigation, adding that six marine mammals have been found with gunshot wounds in San Diego County during the last two years, most of them sea lions.

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