Federal and local agencies are stepping up their investigation after the latest victim in a string of violence targeting dolphins in the Gulf Coast was discovered in Orange Beach, Alabama over the weekend.
A bottlenose dolphin was killed by a hunter’s arrow which had a yellow feather on the end of it. The arrow was shot into the dolphin’s side, resulting in a slow and painful death. The dolphin lingered with the arrow embedded in its body for about five days before finally dying of the resulting infection.
This is the second case of violence against dolphins in the gulf in just the past few weeks. Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched an investigation and began offering a reward of $2,500 for any information leading to an arrest and conviction after a pregnant bottlenose dolphin was shot just weeks before she was due to give birth to her calf. Her body was found at Miramar Beach in Florida in November.
In addition, The Humane Society of the United States is also offering a $ 5,000 reward and on Tuesday night Orange Beach mayor, Tony Kennon, announced that they would like to offer an additional $5,000 reward to anyone who can help them catch the killer.
“I cannot imagine why anybody would want to shoot a dolphin,” Kennon said. “It’s pretty serious business…. That kind of person we don’t want here. They don’t need to be anywhere obviously.”
Local and federal authorities are asking anyone with any information to come forward.
Dolphins are protected in United States waters by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 which makes it a federal crime to harass, harm, or kill a dolphin or whale. Doing so can result in prison time as well as substantial fines.
Sadly, these latest incidents of violent deaths of area dolphins are not isolated occurrences, over the few couple of years dolphins have been increasingly targeted for violence in the wild as growing concern for the world’s dolphins have ramped up some preservation and protection efforts.
Usually it is fishermen who target dolphins in order to eliminate any competition to their catch. This is not only inhumane and illegal, but it can wreak havoc on an eco-system whenever a species becomes endangered.
Dolphins are known for their friendly disposition and natural curiosity of humans and many charities around the world have found that working with dolphins in nature can have enormous healing and therapeutic benefits.
Currently, a number of dolphin species are on the IUCN’s Red List as being threatened or endangered, with the Hector’s Dolphin and the Ganges River Dolphin being among the most endangered, and the Yangtze River Dolphin having gone extinct in recent years. However, as these attacks continue – and are coupled with threats to their habitat such as the BP oil spill, rising sea temperatures, and pollution – there is a fear that the familiar and friendly dolphins of the gulf could soon be joining the list.
Anyone with any information about these attacks is urged to contact the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.