Wildlife authorities are making an appeal for information after a bottlenose dolphin was killed by someone who stabbed it in the head with a sharp “spear-like” object.
Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) found the dead mammal in May earlier this year washed ashore on Upper Captiva Island in Lee County, FL. The FFWC subsequently alerted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement.
An examination of the carcass indicated that the adult male dolphin had been impaled in the head with the object while it was still alive, with the nature of the wound suggesting that the animal may have been in a “begging position” at the moment that it was struck.
The fatal wound, located above the right eye, measures around 6 inches in length and reaches through to the top of the skull.
The dolphin in question was known to scientists in the area having been spotted in the waters off Captiva before. In fact, the animal was recently seen swimming near fishing boats.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 prohibits the harassing, harming, killing or feeding of wild dolphins. Those who break this law can face fines of up to $100,000 and a maximum of one year in jail for every violation.
The NOAA is urging people not to feed wild dolphins—an illegal act in any case—in the wake of the killing in an attempt to protect them. This is because feeding the animals can teach them to associate people and boats with food, thus increasing the risk of violent conflict with humans.
Unfortunately, violent incidents against dolphins such as these are not unheard of in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, in the last 17 years at least 26 dolphins have been found dead with wounds from guns, arrows or sharp objects.
The NOAA has now issued a plea for anyone with information about the incident to call the Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. There is a reward available of up to $38,000 if any information provided leads to the successful identification or prosecution of the person responsible and/or an arrest, conviction or civil penalty assessment.
The dolphin killing is not the only incidence of violence against a marine mammal to have emerged this year. In fact, a pregnant seal was brutally killed when someone deliberately shot it in the heart with a rifle, a recent post-mortem revealed.
The animal was found on a riverbank alongside another dead pregnant seal on January 7 this year in the English county of Essex by local wildlife tour operator Tony Haggis, the BBC reported. Both creatures appeared to have suffered bullet wounds.