Circumstances Of Dead Dolphin On Beach Rattles Community, Cops Offer Reward

Authorities are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the death of a bottlenose dolphin found shot on a Louisiana beach last month.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed the dolphin’s body was discovered on March 13 at West Mae’s Beach in Cameron Parish, presenting with multiple bullet wounds.

The public was first alerted to the dolphin’s plight when a beachgoer reported the sighting to the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline. NOAA’s stranding network partner, Audubon Aquarium Rescue, responded to the call, retrieving the dolphin and transporting it to the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans for a necropsy.

The results of the necropsy were grim, revealing that the juvenile dolphin had bullets lodged in its brain, spinal cord, and heart. The injuries were determined to be the cause of death, which occurred close to the time the dolphin was killed. The specific details of the projectiles suggest the animal was shot with a firearm.

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is heading the investigation into the incident. They have called on the public to provide any information that could lead to identifying and apprehending the perpetrator. While tipsters can remain anonymous, those hoping to claim the $20,000 reward must provide their name and contact details.

The shooting of the dolphin is not only a tragic incident but also a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This federal law prohibits the harassment, harm, killing, or feeding of wild dolphins. Violations of the act can lead to severe penalties, including fines up to $100,000 and a year in prison.

West Mae’s Beach is located in Barataria Bay, the largest estuary in Louisiana and a critical habitat for the bottlenose dolphin. The local dolphin population, however, has faced significant challenges over the past decade.

Following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the dolphin numbers in the bay plummeted by 45%, with many animals suffering from reproductive failures and other oil-related diseases.

The dolphin population is currently threatened by the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project. This initiative aims to divert water and sediment from the Mississippi River to rebuild eroding marshland. However, the introduction of large volumes of freshwater into the bay is detrimental to the saltwater habitat preferred by the dolphins, contributing to a high mortality rate among the local population.

Anyone with information about the shooting of the dolphin is urged to contact the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964. The community’s cooperation is crucial in solving this case and helping to protect the remaining dolphin population in Barataria Bay.