Redondo Sea Lion Dies of Gunshot Wounds; 2nd Killing in 3 Weeks

Times Staff Writer

Bruno, the California sea lion that made the Redondo Beach Harbor Patrol's dock his home for the past two years, died this week of two gunshot wounds sustained about two months ago, officials said.

Bruno is the second sea lion in recent weeks to be killed at King Harbor. The other one, which boaters in the marina called Bobo, was killed when it was fed an explosive device hidden inside a mackerel, Harbor Master Wayne Sankey disclosed Tuesday.

"He died instantly from internal bleeding," Sankey said.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is investigating the killings. Maliciously killing a sea lion is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $20,000 and up to a year in jail, said Ray Sautter of the federal agency.

Bruno, a 300-pound sea lion believed to be 3 to 4 years old, was found floating in King Harbor Sunday. He was wounded twice in the right side by small-caliber bullets.

"It was just some sick individuals" who did this, said Sankey. Sea lions sometimes interfere with fishermen, he said, but they are easily scared away.

It is unlikely that the same person killed both sea lions, he added, noting the incidents occurred more than a month apart and different weapons were used.

The Torrance chapter of the Fund for Animals Inc., an animal rights group, is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who used the explosive charge to kill Bobo.

Jerye Mooney, the Southern California coordinator for the group, called Bobo's killing a "cruel act," and said her group has advertised the reward by putting posters up around Redondo Beach.

Bruno was a familiar visitor for the seven harbor patrol officers, who were clearly upset by his killing. "There is just no excuse for this," said one officer.

Several said they thought the sea lion was going to recover. Marine life specialists were called to help, but no one could capture him.

Sautter said he has some suspects in the killing of Bobo, and hopes to have enough evidence to file charges within the next week.

But Sautter said finding Bruno's killer will be more difficult since the shooting took place almost two months ago. "I wish I could be optimistic at this time, but I'm not," he said. "There are no leads in Bruno's case."

Because of the warm and consistent weather at South Bay beaches, many sea lions make the area their permanent home, he said. Some, like Bruno and Bobo, have stayed around the same area for so long that residents have become familiar with them.

"Both of these animals that died these past three weeks were basically harbor pets," he said.

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