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Louisiana Dolphin Shot Dead

April 23, 2024

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information.

Stranded juvenile bottlenose dolphin Stranded juvenile bottlenose dolphin. Credit: Audubon Aquarium Rescue

On March 13, NOAA Fisheries received a report of a dead bottlenose dolphin on West Mae’s Beach in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The dolphin, a juvenile, had injuries consistent with being shot with a firearm. NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is investigating the death and we are asking the public for any information about who may have been involved. We are offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to a criminal conviction or the assessment of a civil penalty. 

A member of the public reported the stranding to the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline. NOAA’s stranding network partner, Audubon Aquarium Rescue, recovered the animal and transported it to the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans for a necropsy.  

Approximate location of dolphin carcass, Cameron Parish, Louisiana.
Approximate location of dolphin carcass, Cameron Parish, Louisiana. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

The necropsy (animal autopsy) revealed multiple bullets lodged in the carcass, including in the brain, spinal cord, and heart of the dolphin. The animal appeared to have died from the trauma, which occurred at or near the time of death. 

Anyone with information about this incident should call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964. You can leave tips anonymously, but to be eligible for the reward you must include your name and contact information.

We are looking for information leading to one or all of the following:

  1. Successful identification and/or
  2. Successful prosecution for the person(s) responsible
  3. Arrest, conviction, or civil penalty assessment

Harassing, harming, killing, or feeding wild dolphins is prohibited under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Violations can be prosecuted civilly or criminally and are punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and up to 1 year in jail per violation. Report any stranded or injured marine animals to the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at (877) WHALE-HELP (877-942-5243).

Last updated by Office of Law Enforcement on April 23, 2024