Santa Barbara County man charged with killing an elephant seal

A Santa Barbara County man was charged Tuesday with fatally shooting a northern elephant seal on a beach near San Simeon. Northern elephant seals are a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Jordan Gerbich, 30, of Santa Maria, is charged with one count of killing a marine mammal.

In Sept. 2019, the corpse of a northern elephant seal was found on a beach near San Simeon close to a popular viewing area along Highway 1 where visitors can observe elephant seals. The animal had been shot in the head.

Investigators believe Gerbich fatally shot the mammal on Sept. 28, 2019.

If convicted of the misdemeanor offense, Gerbich faces a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.

This matter was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement with substantial assistance provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.