Jersey Shore fisherman accused of shooting at pilot whales

     (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region via Flickr)

    (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region via Flickr)

    A Cape May tuna fisherman is facing a criminal charge for shooting at pilot whales, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced today. 

    Daniel Archibald, 27, of Cape May surrendered today to face one count of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Fishman said in a release.

    The tuna fisherman appeared this afternoon in Newark federal court and was released on $10,000 unsecured bond, with travel restricted to the United States, except for fishing in international waters. He must surrender all firearms and firearms purchaser identification cards and is prohibited from using or possessing a firearm on land or sea.

    In September 2011, authorities found an 11-foot, 740-pound pilot whale beached in Allenhurst. The marine mammal died shortly thereafter

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    A necropsy revealed a .30 caliber bullet lodged in the whale’s jaw, which triggered an extensive infection that caused the animal to starve to death a month later.

    Authorities allege that Archibald shot at pilot whales while aboard the fishing vessel “Capt. Bob.”

    From the release:

    Review of the Capt. Bob’s vessel monitoring system confirmed that it was in New Jersey fishing waters for much of August 2011, the approximate time that the whale was shot. Also, nearly a month before the pilot whale washed ashore, defendant Archibald posted a Facebook photograph of a tuna head on a hook with the caption, “thanks a lot pilot whales.”

    Special agents eventually searched the Capt. Bob and found a Mosin-Nagant, a World War II rifle that has not been manufactured in several decades. Forensic analysis revealed that the bullet found in the whale was similar in all general rifling characteristics to test bullets fired from Archibald’s rifle. When interviewed by special agents, Archibald admitted that he had “spray[ed]” bullets at pilot whales in an effort to chase them away. 

    Violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which includes hunting, killing, capturing, or harassing any marine mammal, carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a statutory maximum fine of $100,000, or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense.

    Harassment under the statute includes any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance that has the potential to injure a marine mammal in the wild.

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