Impaled dolphin washes ashore on Fort Myers Beach, investigation underway

Reporter: Michael Hudak
Published: Updated:

Authorities are investigating after an impaled dolphin washed ashore on Fort Myers Beach last month.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are asking the public for any information on the dolphin’s death.

The dolphin was found on March 24, according to NOAA. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recovered the animal.

A necropsy found the dolphin was impaled in the head with a spear-like object while alive.

The dolphin was an adult, lactating female. Based on the shape and size of the wound NOAA suspects the dolphin was impaled while in a begging position.

Begging is not a natural behavior of dolphins which likely means it was being fed illegally, according to NOAA.

People can prevent harm to dolphins by not feeding them, NOAA said.

Violent incidents toward dolphins are nothing new.

Since 2002, at least 27 dolphins have been stranded with evidence of being shot by guns or arrows or impaled with sharp objects. Not one person has been found accoutable.

Dylan Haddeland, of Minnesota, said he hopes they find the person responsible.

“There’s a great part of humanity that’s just sickening. And it saddens me,” said Jack Burton, who was visiting Fort Myers Beach for the first time.

Denise Boyd, with the FWC, said the dead dolphin’s posture shows it may have been begging at the time.

“A dolphin may approach a vessel or even a seawall or approach humans, they come up out of the water, their head usually comes up first. And they will generally come up headfirst and turn to the side so that they can visualize you with their eyes. And that’s kind of a posture where an animal’s coming up alongside a vessel or a seawall or a dock and looking for basically a handout,” Boyd said.

Isakob, a tour operator on Fort Myers Beach, deals with dolphins daily.

“We watch the dolphins, wildlife, manatees,” Isakob said. “It’s devastating to know that we are every day protecting the wildlife, and making sure the wildlife has been protected. Then to find something like this, it’s really devastating to hear.”

Harassing, harming or killing wild dolphins is prohibited.

Violations can be prosecuted civilly or criminally and are punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year in jail per violation.

Please call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964. Tips may be left anonymously.

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