LOS ANGELES – A man formerly from Santa Maria has been sentenced to three months in federal prison for shooting and killing a northern elephant seal on a beach near San Simeon.
In December, Jordan Gerbich, 30, pleaded guilty in to one misdemeanor count of illegally taking a marine mammal.
In September 2019, Gerbich, who now lives in Utah, drove to an elephant viewing area near the Piedras Blancas Marine Reserve and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. He brought with him a .45-caliber pistol which he used to shoot and kill a northern elephant seal as it was resting on the beach in a rookery. The elephant seal was discovered on the beach with a bullet hole in its head the following day.
Prosecutors said in their sentencing memorandum that it remains unclear what motivated Gerbich to kill the seal.
Northern elephant seals are a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. They live throughout the Pacific coast and come to rest on the land in rookeries. The rookiers are usually populated year-round but numbers can vary due to breeding and molting cycles.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement investigated the case with "substantial assistance" from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.