The southern sea otters washed ashore in between the Santa Cruz Harbor and Seacliff State Beach between Aug. 12 and 19, having died from gunshot wounds. All of the otters were males, two sub-adults and one adult, having died several days or weeks prior to being found.
Killing a southern sea otter is punishable by possible jail time and fines up to $100,000, as they are a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and under California state law. This species, also known as the California sea otter, was listed as threatened in 1977, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Authorties are offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the otter deaths.