A federal agency is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information about swimmers who ‘harassed’ and attempted to mount a dolphin that died after it washed up on a Texas beach last month.
The sick dolphin washed up on Quintana beach on April 10 and was ‘harassed’ by swimmers trying to swim with the animal and pushing it back out to sea, according to a Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network Facebook post. .
The organization received a call about 20 minutes before the animal died and a staff member asked the caller to tell the crowd to bring the animal ashore, but the bathers did not listen, TMMSN executive director Heidi Whitehead told The Washington Post.
Instead, swimmers piled the dolphin up and placed their children on it, as if they were riding it, she told the Post.
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When a dolphin is stranded on the beach, it is usually injured or sick and may have difficulty breathing, Whitehead said.
The organization recovered the dolphin, which was dead, and notified the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration. A necropsy revealed the dolphin had drowned, NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement said.
The agency is using videos taken during the incident to help identify individuals and is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest, prosecution and/or conviction of those responsible. Tipping can be called at (800) 853-1964; tips can be left anonymously, but a name and contact information is required for a reward.
Some people on the beach were trying to help the dolphin, “but that’s a completely different situation when it comes to harassing behavior — that type of behavior is completely inexcusable,” Whitehead told the Post. “The hardest part for me and my staff was just thinking about (the suffering) this animal no doubt endured in its last minutes of life.