As if the sea life in the Gulf Coast hasn’t already been traumatized enough with the BP oil spill, now someone is mutilating and killing dolphins.
The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) in Gulfport, Alabama found a dolphin without a lower jaw. The week before that, a dolphin with gunshot wounds was discovered. Another dolphin turned up dead having been stabbed with a screwdriver. There was even a dolphin that had its tail cut off. All in all, six dolphins have been killed since the past few months.
I’ve never understood how someone can kill an animal, especially one as beautiful and likable as a dolphin, but apparently, some people have reasons. Craig Newton, a biologist and shrimp specialist (I never knew there was such a thing!) at the Marine Resources Division in Alabama said, “It could be anyone who uses the Gulf of Mexico.”
But, why? Charter boat and recreational anglers have a reason to dislike dolphins because they can either run off fish or eat them. Dolphins have also known to damage shrimpers and commercial fishermen’s nets, which could cost them into the thousands of dollars in net damage, but also release anything caught in the net. Newton also speculates that even workers on crew boats, supply boats, or oil rigs could be killing the dolphins.
Not only do I find this despicable, but whoever is doing it is committing a crime. It is a federal offense that can cost the perpetrator not only money, but could present possible jail time. Per the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is illegal to take marine animals, with “taking” being defined as hunting, killing, capturing, or harassing. It can carry a fine of up to $100,000 and a one year prison term. To help identify the killers, the government has offered a $30,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the killers.