Marine Animal Rescue is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for shootings of sea lions in Santa Monica Bay.

Four sea lions have been found shot so far this year and only one has survived, said Peter Wallerstein, founding director of Marine Animal Rescue. Two other shooting incidents occurred at the end of last year, he said.

“It’s very alarming,” Wallerstein said of the cluster of shootings.

The latest victim was an eight-month-old sea lion pup that was rescued by Marine Animal Rescue February 3rd at Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey. At least one bullet penetrated the pup’s spine, paralyzing the marine animal, which had to be euthanized, Wallerstein said.

He said that some fishermen feel that seals, sea lions and even pelicans are a threat to their livelihoods and will purposely injure or kill the animals. The incidents need to be stopped, Wallerstein added.

Marine Animal Rescue staff are hoping that the reward will influence witnesses to come forward. The rescue group will be conducting undercover investigations along with expanding its public education campaign and will push for prosecution of the person or persons responsible to the fullest extent of the law, Wallerstein said.

To report incidents, Marine Animal Rescue 24-hour hotline at (800) 399-4253 (800-39-WHALE).

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