An underage suspect has confessed to killing a dolphin in the northern Gulf of Mexico by shooting it with a bow and arrow.

The dolphin, with a yellow-feathered arrow embedded in its side, washed ashore on Orange Beach, Alabama, over the weekend,according to a news release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose law enforcement officers are investigating.

As the suspect is a juvenile, authorities are not identifying them or the charges they may be facing.

NOAA notes that in normal cases criminal charges and fines up to $100,000 can be levied.

Advertisement

Investigators found the suspect after being tipped off.

This is the second violent killing of the protected animal in recent weeks, federal authorities said on Monday.

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.

NOAA officials said 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.

People can help to protect dolphins by refraining from feeding them, which encourages them to approach dangerous situations, NOAA said, noting they will remove bait and catch directly from fishing gear. This can result in violent retaliation.

- Daily Mail