Officials are asking for the public’s health to find who was responsible after the body of a dolphin was found on a Florida beach that had been impaled with a spear-like object when it was still alive.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement put the call out after the dead bottlenose dolphin was found on Fort Myers Beach on March 24.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recovered the body and a necropsy revealed the wound above the adult female dolphin’s right eye had been inflicted before the animal died, the NOAA said.
“The animal appeared to have died from the trauma, which occurred at or near the time of death,” the NOAA stated in a press release.
Officials suspect the blow may have been delivered while the dolphin, which was lactating, was in a begging position, not a natural behavior most often associated with illegal feeding.
“People can help prevent future harm to wild dolphins by not feeding or attempting to feed them,” the NOAA stated. “Dolphins fed by people learn to associate people, boats, and fishing gear with food, which puts dolphins and people in harmful situations.”
The NOAA said that at least 27 dolphins have been found stranded with evidence of being shot or impaled in the last 20 years.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits harassing, harming, killing or feeding wild dolphins. Civil or criminal prosecution under the act could lead to fines of up to $100,000 or 1 year in jail.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964, and tips can be left anonymously.
©2022 Orlando Sentinel. Visit at orlandosentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.