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

The Dease Lake Airport is receiving $11-million in upgrades funded by the province, Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and mining companies. (British Columbia Aviation Council)
Major upgrades coming to Dease Lake Airport

Airport to receive $11-million from the province, regional district and mining companies

Dianna Plouffe, right, with Mayor Gladys Atrill in front of Town Hall following the announcement she will be the new CAO> (Facebook photo)
Director of corporate services named Smithers CAO

Dianna Plouffe replaces Alan Harris who is retiring at the end of April

Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Witset. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Province, feds fund full cell service along ‘Highway of Tears’ following years of advocacy

A ‘critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies’ after at least 10 Indigenous women murdered, missing along the route

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Volunteer Robbie McKnight works the screening table at the Coast Mountain College COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)
UPDATE Smithers clinic expands vaccine eligibility to ages 55+

Community members born in 1966 or earlier can now register and will be notified when they can book

Vancouver police say eight people were arrested Wednesday after anti-pipeline protesters blocked off both the entrances and exits to two buildings in the downtown core. (Instagram/Qtcatspictureclub)
8 people arrested after anti-pipeline protestors chain themselves to Vancouver buildings

Cst. Tania Visintin said demonstrators caused ‘a serious safety hazard’ downtown for hours Wednesday

Jamie Coutts recorded a man following her around downtown Vancouver for a half-hour on Wednesday, March 18. (Instagram screenshot/Iammjammbamm)
Man charged in alleged high-profile Vancouver stalking case that went viral online

Man faces five other charges including criminal harassment and assault with a weapon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sea lion swims past the window of an empty viewing area Vancouver Aquarium is pictured Thursday, September 10, 2020. The Vancouver Aquarium has had to close its doors to the public due to the lack of visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
U.S.-based theme park company buys Vancouver Aquarium

Aquarium had to shut its doors in September due to COVID pandemic

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

A deep cut on a humpback whale is shown in this recent handout photo in the Vancouver area. A conservation organization is warning boaters to be extra careful to prevent further harm to an injured humpback whale swimming in the Vancouver area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ocean Wise, Vanessa Prigollini *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boaters urged to use caution around hurt humpback off Vancouver

Ocean Wise says watchers first noticed the wound 3 days ago and believe it was caused by a vessel strike

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Most Read