Cape May Man Charged With Shooting Whale With WWII-Era Rifle on Boat Named Capt Bob

Federal authorities yesterday charged a New Jersey man with shooting at pilot whales with a Mosin-Nagant rifle while aboard a fishing boat named Capt Bob.

A pilot whale (Photo | Adam Li, NOAA)

A pilot whale (Photo | Adam Li, NOAA)

It’s like Moby-Dick, except instead of harpoons and the Pequod it’s a decades-old rifle and a ship named Capt Bob.

Federal authorities yesterday charged Cape May’s Daniel Archibald with violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The government says Archibald fired several shots at pilot whales, which violates the act’s prohibition on hunting or harassing marine life.

Authorities say Archibald used a Mosin-Nagant rifle to fire at the whales off the New Jersey coast, which it describes as “a World War II rifle that has not been manufactured in several decades.”

The government says it was first alerted to the alleged whale-shooting when an 11-foot, 740-pound pilot whale beached itself in 2011 in Allenhurst, New Jersey. A .30-caliber bullet was found in the whale during an autopsy; it had lodged in its jaw and caused it to starve to death.

After a check of their vessel monitoring system, authorities narrowed in on the Capt Bob when it was found to be 200 miles off the New Jersey coast at the time of the whale’s death. The indictment alleges a Facebook post showed Archibald holding a tuna head with the caption “thanks a lot pilot whales” shortly before the incident. It also says Archibald had posted a photo of a case of large-caliber ammunition with the caption, “Let’s make some noise.” The government searched the Capt Bob and found the rifle, which it matched to the bullet lodged in the beached whale. Archibald had purchased the rifle at a New Jersey dealer in April of 2011.

Federal authorities allege Archibald admitted to firing a “spray” of bullets in an attempt to keep pilot whales away from the Capt Bob. If convicted, Archibald faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. He has been released on $10,000 unsecured bond and is barred from being in international fishing waters.

A copy of the complaint is below.

U.S. vs. Archibald