Dolphin washes up on beach with bullets lodged in spine, heart and brain

FILE - A juvenile bottlenose dolphin was discovered washed up onto a Louisiana beach on March 13, 2024, with bullets lodged in the mammal's brain, spinal cord and heart. Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Authorities are looking for leads in an investigation surrounding a dead bottlenose dolphin that washed up on a Louisiana beach with bullet wounds last month.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is now offering a US$20,000 (about C$27,400) reward to anyone with information about the dolphin that was discovered on West Mae’s Beach in Cameron Parish on March 13.

In a press release, authorities said the dolphin, which was a juvenile, had injuries consistent with being shot with a firearm. The mammal had several bullets still lodged in its body, including in its brain, spinal cord and heart.

A bottlenose dolphin was discovered washed up on a Louisiana beach on March 13, 2024, with several bullet wounds. Audubon Aquarium Rescue

The NOAA fisheries department said the dolphin likely died as a result of the bodily trauma, which occurred near or at the time of the animal’s death.

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It is unclear where, when or why the dolphin was shot.

The dolphin carcass was reportedly discovered on the beach by an unnamed member of the public who contacted the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline.

A crew from Audubon Aquarium Rescue retrieved the washed-up dolphin and brought it to the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans for an animal autopsy.

The approximate location of the dolphin carcass, found in Cameron Parish, La. NOAA Fisheries

Bottlenose dolphins are a protected species. The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits harassing, harming, feeding or killing wild dolphins.

Violators of the Marine Mammal Protection Act can be prosecuted on both civil and criminal grounds. They can be punished by up to US$100,000 (about C$137,200) in fines and a maximum of one year in jail per violation.

Anyone with information regarding the deceased dolphin has been asked to call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964.

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Tips can be made anonymously, though the NOAA said in order to qualify for the US$20,000 reward, informants must leave their name and contact information.

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