NOAA: 12 sea lions now confirmed shot in Puget Sound

SEATTLE -- Scientists confirm 12 sea lions have been shot in the Puget Sound, part of 18 that have died from "acute trauma" caused by humans since September.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday the sea lions were found dead earlier this month.

The number increased from 10 as two additional carcasses examined were confirmed to be shot with shotguns, NOAA spokesperson Michael Milstein said. The carcasses were old and decomposed, Milstein said.

NOAA Fisheries law enforcement agents are investigating the crimes, which are prohibited under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. So far, no suspects have been identified.

The 18 dead sea lions have been found in the waters off of King and Kitsap counties.