Category: Society / December 3, 2012 11:01 AM EST
Authorities are trying to determine who is responsible for killing at least six bottlenose dolphins that have washed ashore along the U.S. Gulf Coast in the past several months, in some cases with their carcasses mutilated.
The institute, which performed necropsies on the dead dolphins, has provided forensic evidence such as bullet casings to area law enforcement and met with a federal investigator.
Because the killings have spanned several states, authorities doubt a single person is responsible. Moby Solangi, Director of The Institute For Marine Mammal Studies commented on the tragedy
"This is a protected species, they're protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. There are law enforcement agents looking. They have forensic evidence now; with the bullets we have recovered. And so, sooner or later, the perpetrators will be found,"
The Marine Mammal Protection Act, a 1972 law that makes killing them punishable by up to $20,000 in fines for each violation and a year in prison.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a directive to enforcement and protection agencies to be on the lookout for anyone harming dolphins.