Federal authorities in Texas are investigating the harassment by swimmers of a stranded dolphin who later died.
Witnesses say individuals on the beach in Quintana on the Gulf of Mexico, about 10 km east of Freeport, brought the bottlenose dolphin back into the water last Sunday, then “attempted to swim with it. sick animal and ride it,” according to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network. said in a statement on Facebook.
“She eventually washed ashore” again and was “further harassed by a crowd of people on the beach where she died before rescuers could arrive on the scene,” the statement added.
Quintana Beach County park officials called the death a “tragedy.”
“Dolphins strand themselves because they are sick or injured, and will most likely drown if they are returned to sea or stranded in worse condition,” said Heidi Whitehead, executive director of the Stranding Network, at the Houston Chronicle.
Harassing marine mammals, which are federally protected, is illegal, she noted.
All relevant information about the dolphin has been passed to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is investigating cases of harassment. Violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act is punishable by one year in prison and a fine of up to $11,000.
In other tragic dolphin news, a still-nursing lactating Big Nose was found dead last month in Fort Myers Beach, Florida with an injury above his right eye. She was apparently impaled in the head with a spear-shaped object while she was still alive, officials told local news station WESH 2. They are continuing to investigate the death.
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