Captain Paul Watson, founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is personally offering $20,000 of his own funds for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for shooting and stabbing dolphins along the northern Gulf Coast of the U.S.
In recent months, dolphins have washed ashore in the region with bullet wounds and missing jaws and fins, and federal officials report they are investigating the spate of mysterious killings. Most recently, a dolphin was found dead off the coast of Mississippi with its lower jaw missing. In areas such as Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, dolphins have been found shot, stabbed and mutilated. Officials in the region have reported they believe that the person or group responsible is on a ‘rampage’ because they are not just killing dolphins, but also mutilating them.
Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) yesterday announced they are asking everyone from beachgoers to fishermen to wildlife agents to be on the lookout for injured or dead dolphins, as well as any unusual interactions between the mammals and people. Attacks on dolphins, animals that are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, carry fines and jail sentences. It is not known who is killing the protected animals, but in the past fishermen and charter boat captains have been convicted of harming dolphins they thought were taking bait or fish. Given the stress the Gulf region is still under from the devastating oil spill and the damage done to fish populations, there may be displaced anger that they are taking out on the friendly and curious dolphins, which they may view as competition for fish.
“I regard the killing of a dolphin as murder, and what we appear to have on the Gulf Coast is a dolphin serial killer. I want this sadistic killer stopped, and I have set aside $20,000 of my own savings to be paid out to any person who delivers the evidence to find and convict this person or persons. Any person coming forward with evidence may remain anonymous and can communicate with NOAA, NMFS, or Gulf Coast law enforcement officials with this information,” said Captain Watson.