The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for shooting a pregnant dolphin in Miramar Beach, in the Florida Panhandle (600 miles from Miramar, the Broward County city).
This reward is in addition to the $2,500 reward the Whale and Dolphin Conservation had previously offered for any information related to the killing of the dolphin, a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The dolphin was found dead on Miramar Beach just before Thanksgiving, and a later necropsy revealed it suffered a gunshot wound that left a small-caliber bullet lodged in its lungs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believes the mammal was shot roughly two days prior to her discovery, just weeks of before she was to give birth to her calf.
Dolphin experts with the charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation have said, "Since 2002, there have been at least 17 documented cases of stranded dolphins with evidence of gunshot wounds, and with the majority -- 70 percent -- occurring since 2010."
Dolphins are routinely spotted in and around Miramar Beach, and companies are even chartering "Dolphin Cruise Tours" in the area.
It's likely that someone knows something about the senseless murder of this dolphin, and authorities are hoping the increase of reward money makes receiving the right tip more likely.
Two weeks after the discovery of this dolphin in Miramar Beach, a bottlenose dolphin in Alabama was discovered to have been shot with an arrow. The dolphin eventually died from an infection related to the wound. A juvenile eventually confessed to the killing after a $24,000 reward was offered and information came into the tip line that linked him to the crime.
Harming a dolphin is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and is punishable by criminal penalties up to $100,000 and one-year incarceration. Civil penalties up to $11,000 per count may also be assessed.
Anyone with information concerning the death is asked to call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964. Callers may remain anonymous.