The three male otters were found dead between the Santa Cruz Harbor and Seacliff State Beach in Aptos last month, but initial necropsy results show the otters were shot and died several days to several weeks before washing ashore.
Southern sea otters are protected as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. They are also protected under Marine Mammal Protection Act and by California state law. Killing a southern sea otter is punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and a possible jail sentence.
Anyone with information should call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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