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Cape May Man Faces Criminal Charges for Shooting at Pilot Whales With World War Ii-Era Rifle

Cape May New Jersey

A Cape May man surrendered to U.S. Marshals Thursday for shooting at pilot whales off the New Jersey coast, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Daniel Archibald, 27, is charged by complaint with one count of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. He appeared Thursday afternoon in Newark federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III in Newark federal court. 

He was released on $10,000 unsecured bond, with travel restricted to the United States, except for fishing in international waters. He is required to surrender all firearms and firearms purchaser identification cards and is prohibited from using or possessing a firearm on land or sea.

According to the complaint:

Archibald, a tuna fisherman, allegedly shot at pilot whales while aboard the fishing vessel “Capt Bob.” Pilot whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, a statute that prohibits the Hunting, killing, capture or harassment of any marine mammal. Harassment under the statute includes any act of pursuit, torment or annoyance that has the potential to injure a marine mammal in the wild.

On Sept. 24, 2011, an 11-foot, 740-pound pilot whale beached itself in Allenhurst, and died shortly thereafter. A necropsy uncovered a .30 caliber bullet lodged in the whale’s jaw. The bullet wound triggered an extensive infection that caused the whale to starve to death a month later.

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.

The violation charged 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.