Tom Sewid, a long-time fisherman from Vancouver Island’s Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, demonstrates some clothing products made from seals and sea lions. (Submitted photo)

Tom Sewid, a long-time fisherman from Vancouver Island’s Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, demonstrates some clothing products made from seals and sea lions. (Submitted photo)

Questions arise after decapitated sea lion found upon B.C. shore

Headless sea lion discoveries have also been documented on Nanaimo and Comox beaches

Dozens of dead sea lions wash up on British Columbian shorelines every year, many transported by strong pacific currents.

So, what made the discovery of one on Wednesday (March 10) by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans any different? It was lying on a beach in South Delta with a severed head.

Though it is not clear when or how the sea lion was decapitated, officers attended the area of Boundary Bay for observation purposes.

Delta officials are responsible for the removal of the carcass, according to DFO spokesperson Leri Davies.

“Typically, animals are washed up intact, however from time to time individuals tamper with the animals once beached,” Davies told Black Press Media.

RELATED: Sea lion with gruesome crossbow wounds rescued from log boom in Powell River

If the mammal was decapitated post-mortem, the person or persons responsible committed a serious crime, she said.

Marine Mammals Regulations and the Fisheries Act make it illegal to “disturb” sea lions. This includes interference whether they are dead or alive.

Thomas Sewid of the Vancouver Island Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, a long-time commercial fisherman, thinks he knows the reason someone cut off the mammal’s head and others like it.

“Sea lion skulls are a commodity,” he told Black Press Media. “Since it’s not legal, there’s a big supply for them – among all other pinniped parts the biggest market is for skulls.”

Decapitated sea lions have been documented on beaches in Nanaimo, Lantzville and Comox.

As a tour guide, Sewid – who lives in Campbell River – has received hundreds of emails from Canadians in search of sea lion skulls they can purchase.

He said a male steller skull can sell for up to $4,000 in the underground market.

MORE: Seals, sea lions may not be the scourge of the Salish Sea

Indigenous communities like Sewid’s are permitted to harvest sea lions for food and ceremonial purposes, but only in limited quantities.

“We want to utilize the full mammal and restore balance to the ecosystem,” he said of First Nations hunters, who make use of the mammal’s meat, blubber, organs, pelt and even its whiskers.

Sewid is pushing the federal government to loosen restrictions on the commercial sale of sea lions so that Indigenous communities along B.C.’s coast can sell them and make a profit.

“It would sure help us make a living,” said Sewid.

DFO asks British Columbians to report violations against ocean mammals at 1-800-465-4336.

ALSO WATCH: Northern fur seal pup rescued near B.C. fish farm



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

DFOFirst NationsHunting and Fishing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

While pharmacies across B.C. are using AstraZeneca for public immunizations for people 40 years of age and older, there is no availability currently in the Kootenays. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
No AstraZeneca vaccine availability in Kootenay pharmacies, says Interior Health

Vaccine has been opened up at pharmacies in other areas of the province to people 40 years of age and older

Dan May, a new resident to Kimberley, had two trailers on his property vandalized, but the outpouring of support from the community helped turn a negative situation into a positive. Photo submitted.
“I’m not Bill” – new Kimberley family’s trailers vandalized

Community rallies after concession trailer vandalized

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok. Bulletin file
Kimberley, Golden unlikely to get mass vaccination clinics: MLA Clovechok

Kimberley has 17 active cases as of Tuesday, April 20; Golden 7

CBAL Kimberley is offering a number of programs in the coming weeks.
CBAL Kimberley is offering a number of programs in the coming weeks

The Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy in Kimberley continues to offer programs… Continue reading

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

Most Read