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.

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

Just Posted

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The fence option chosen for the 461 Quatsino Boulevard development is the red lines that border the site plan. The fence will be roughly six feet high with the exception of the fence bordering Cranberry Street which will be eight feet high. (Boni Maddison Architects photo)
Fence to be erected between housing project and Kitimat homeowners

Residents of the Cranberry Street area are finally getting the fence they want

Rising demand for police to perform well-being checks and field calls for people struggling with domestic violence cases is driving the city to formulate a ‘situation table’ to connect vulnerable people with the services they need. (News Bulletin file photo)
Situation Table comes to Kitimat to support vulnerable people

Situation Tables identify and help vulnerable people in need.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read