A dolphin was found dead on the coast in Manhattan Beach, CA and following an examination of the animal, it was determined that the cause of death was a gunshot wound. Marine Animal Rescue, a marine wildlife group, is offering $5,000 to whoever has information that could lead to a conviction of the culprit.

Peter Wallerstein, founder and president of the wildlife group, received a phone call on November 8 alerting him of a floating dolphin on the surf. Upon arriving at the location, he and a lifeguard managed to bring the dolphin to shore, which is when they discovered that the animal had already died. 

“I saw a little hole in the side,” Wallerstein told Buzzfeed News. After inspecting the wound, it became obvious to him that it was a gunshot. Wallerstein then took the dolphin to Marine Mammal Care Center in LA where a veterinarian verified that the cause of death was just as he had suspected, and removed the bullet from the animal. 

When speaking with NBC on Friday, Wallerstein condemned the barbaric nature of the crime. "It's just a vicious act of brutality," he said.  

 

Jeff Cozad, the executive director of Marine Mammal Care, explained, "We discovered a bullet, which had damaged the lungs. It appeared it was the cause of death." He also condemned the senseless killing, saying, "There should never be any firearm injuries or deaths to a marine animal."

Wallerstein and the rescue group reportedly treat between 300–500 sea animals per year in the Los Angeles area, however, they often deal with sea lions who have been shot, most likely because they interfere with fishermen by eating their bait. “Sea lions steal the bait off boats, they interfere. They shouldn’t be shot or killed though,” he said. However, according to Wallerstein, dolphins hardly intrude on fishing at all. 

“We have to do something about it,” said Wallerstein. “We have to stop these senseless killings of animals.”