With more than a week having passed since a common dolphin was apparently shot dead at a Los Angeles-area beach, a local rescue group announced that it is doubling its original reward and offering $10,000 to anyone who can provide information leading to the shooter’s conviction.
Speaking to USA Today on Saturday, Marine Animal Rescue president and founder Peter Wallerstein said that the dolphin corpse was found on November 8 at Manhattan Beach with an “unusual hole” in its body. A subsequent examination revealed that the animal suffered a gunshot wound and was likely shot by a boater. Wallerstein described the act as a “brutal, senseless act of aggression” that likely wasn’t done in self-defense, based on his past observations that dolphins do not usually act aggressively toward humans.
Additionally, Wallerstein theorized that the dolphin was shot off the coast of Manhattan Beach, where the animals are typically found in the area. He added that the shooter might have fired at the dolphin at a point where they knew they wouldn’t be caught by anyone.
After originally announcing that it will be offering $5,000 to anyone with information on the shooter, Marine Animal Rescue confirmed on Saturday that it would be doubling the reward to $10,000.
In an earlier interview with NBC News, Wallerstein said that he has enlisted the help of the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is currently investigating the shooting. He added, however, that it isn’t common for authorities to find the individuals responsible for such incidents.
“They have the bullet and they have evidence of the shooting. We very rarely find these people but what the reward does is put them on notice.”
According to the Huffington Post, the act of killing a dolphin could result in a one-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $100,000, as stated in the U.S. government’s Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Aside from dolphins, the act also covers sea lions, whales, manatees, and other mammals found in U.S. waters.
While Wallerstein told NBC News that he isn’t sure why someone would want to shoot a dolphin, the Huffington Post cited a previous statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which said in July that the act of feeding marine animals could somehow condition them to approach fishing boats in hopes of finding some food. This, the NOAA added, might be the reason why the past few years have seen an increase in reports of human violence against dolphins in the Northern Gulf of Mexico.