The body of a huge sea lion that washed up on a Campbell River beach is turning a few heads because it doesn't have one.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada officials say judging from the pictures sent to it by the Campbell River Courier-Islander newspaper, the sea lion appeared in good health prior to its death and that there is the possibility that it died from a gun shot wound. But they offer no explanation for its decapitation.
"From the pictures it is hard to know how the animal died, however the one wound could be a bullet hole," said Paul Cottrell, Pacific marine mammal co-ordinator for FOC in an email.
"The animal's overall body condition is good as the animal is not emaciated and it doesn't appear that the animal was sick."
The four-metre-long body washed up on the beach of the Tyee Spit in Campbell River following a recent wind and rainstorm.
The sea lion's body has what appears to be two closely placed bullet holes high on its shoulder above its left front flipper.
The neck of the sea lion is about 16 inches wide and the skin does not have the ragged edges that would be associated with another creature having bitten or chewed it off. Its skeletal column appears to have been cleanly severed. The carcass was also somewhat 'fresh,' the blood on the wound not congealed and the body had not been disturbed by various creatures normally attracted to such carrion.
Cottrell said the pictures would be added to FOC's database and that a member of the B.C. marine mammal response team will be taking a closer look.