QUINTANA, Texas — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information on the people responsible for harming a sick dolphin on Quintana Beach in April.
The bottlenose dolphin was found stranded alive on the beach in the Freeport area on April 10. Beachgoers found the dolphin, pushed it back out to sea and even attempted to swim with and ride the sick animal.
The dolphin later died from drowning, an autopsy confirmed.
The NOAA's law enforcement office wants the people who harassed the dolphin to be held responsible which is why the agency is asking anyone who can identify the individuals to come forward.
You can call the NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement Hotline anonymously at (800) 853-1964.
The reward of up to $20,000 is for information leading to one or all of the following, according to the NOAA:
- Successful identification
- Successful prosecution for the person(s) responsible
- An arrest, conviction, or civil penalty assessment
You must leave your name and contact information when calling to be eligible for the reward.
DO's and DON'T's for stranded marine mammals (from NOAA):
Don't push the animal back out to sea. Stranded marine mammals may be sick or injured. Returning animals to sea delays examination and treatment and often results in the animal re-stranding in worse conditions.
If the animal returns to the water on its own, don't attempt to swim with it.
Do put human safety above animal safety. If conditions are dangerous, do not attempt to approach the animal.
Do stay with the animal until rescuers arrive, but use caution. Marine mammals can be dangerous and/or carry diseases. Keep a safe distance from the head and tail. Also, minimize contact with the animal (use gloves if necessary) and avoid inhaling the animal’s expired air.
If the animal is alive, do keep its skin moist and cool by splashing water over its body. Use wet towels to help keep the skin moist and prevent sunburn.
If the animal is alive, don't cover or obstruct the blowhole. Try to keep sand and water away from the blowhole.
Do keep crowds away and noise levels down to avoid causing further stress to the animal.
Do report all dead marine mammals, even if they are decomposed.
Do keep dogs/pets away from the live or dead marine mammal.
Don't collect any parts (tissues, teeth, bones, or gear, etc.) from dead animals.