California — A 24-year-old fisherman was arrested in Newport Beach, Calif., on Friday for allegedly stabbing a California sea lion repeatedly with a steak knife after the animal stole his bait.
The sea lion was severely wounded and later euthanized.
Hai Nguyen, of Garden Grove, who was being held at Newport Beach Jail on $20,000 bail, is expected to be arraigned early next week on charges of felony cruelty to animals. Authorities said the case also is being investigated by the U.S. attorney's office for possible federal charges under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Police say Nguyen was fishing off Newport's "M" Street Pier about 12:30 p.m. when the sea lion apparently took the bait from his fishing pole. The fisherman became upset, they said, and stabbed the animal at least twice with a steak knife.
Nguyen was arrested without incident at the pier, Sailor said.
The wounded animal was recovered by volunteers from the marine mammal center in Laguna Beach, who discovered that one of the knife wounds had pierced its heart. The sea lion was euthanized about 5 p.m.