A man has been given a warning letter for harassing a sperm whale that died while languishing off the coast of Florida two months ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.
In the written warning issued earlier this month, NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement told Anthony Armento that he violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prohibits people from harassing, capturing, hunting or killing whales and other marine mammals.
The alleged harassment occurred the morning of Dec. 16 in the waters off Pompano Beach, when a man was seen getting on top of a sperm whale by a witness who photographed the bizarre encounter from afar.
The whale, pronounced dead hours later that day, was thought by marine scientists to have been ailing at sea long before the whale was harassed. Still, responding to reports of the man harassing the whale, NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement investigated and said it identified Armento as the violator.
Armento couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday despite a visit to a listed address. The letter stated that he was eligible to appeal the finding within 30 days of receiving the letter, NOAA said.