The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information that can help identify the beachgoers responsible for harassing a sick dolphin on a Texas beach last month.
The dolphin was found stranded alive on Quintana Beach, located in Brazoria County, on Sunday, April 10 when a crowd of beachgoers tried to touch it, swim with it and ride it, according to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
One of the beachgoers did report the stranded dolphin to authorities, but the dolphin died before rescuers arrived.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement says a necropsy, or non-human autopsy, revealed that the dolphin died from drowning.
The agency is now asking for information from the public on the incident that could lead to the identification of the beachgoers, successful prosecution of the people responsible and/or an arrest.
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, people are prohibited from feeding or harassing marine animals, including dolphins and porpoises in the wild.
Violators could face fines of up to $11,000 or up to one year in prison if convicted, according to the NOAA.
If you have a tip to submit to NOAA, you’re asked to include your name and contact information to be eligible for the reward. Tips can be left anonymously.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement’s hotline can be reached at 800-853-1964.