Mystery and consternation abound as a dead dolphin with a yellow feathered arrow embedded in its side has washed up ashore on Orange Beach, Alabama in the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend.
The incident marks the the second violent killing of the protected animal in recent weeks, according to a news release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has since led to law enforcement officers investigating the macabre occurrence.
Preliminary results from a necropsy indicate that the dolphin may have survived with the arrow for at least five days before dying of an infection caused by the wound, NOAA said.
The agency also is investigating the death of a pregnant bottlenose dolphin found on Miramar Beach, Florida, last month after being shot in the lung.
The dolphin was within weeks of giving birth, according to a news release in that death.
Authorities are seeking additional information in both cases. Harming, harassing or feeding a wild dolphin is prohibited under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.
The latest incident comes as NOAA tell they have seen a rise in violent killings of dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with at least 17 dolphins stranded, or beached in shallow water, with gunshot wounds since 2002. The majority of these deaths have occurred in the past four years.
Offered NOAA special agent Gregg Houghaboom: ‘We need help in tracking down who shot these protected mammals.’
‘We have zero leads…zero responses from the public. We’re hoping someone will have heard something about these cases or saw something on Facebook.’
NOAA advises that people can help to protect dolphins by refraining from feeding them, which encourages them to approach dangerous situations, noting they will remove bait and catch directly from fishing gear, in turn inviting violent retaliation from fishermen…