Photo of man holding dolphin in Nassau County sparks outrage and investigation

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen
Published: Updated:

Warning: the video consists of elements that may be disturbing to some viewers.

A photo posted on Instagram of a man holding a dolphin has caught the attention of investigators.

The photo shows a man holding a baby dolphin out of the water in Nassau County, which is near Jacksonville. The dolphin is now believed to be dead.

Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are now investigating the incident.

Marine biologists say when you take a dolphin out of the water, they can be crushed by the weight of their own bodies. Researchers say you can tell by the dorsal fin.

Now, they’re trying to figure out if the dolphin was alive in that picture.

“I think it’s highly likely that it died after,” said University of North Florida Associate Professor of Coastal and Marine Biology Dr. Quincy Gibson, “but there is a very small chance that it was deceased recently when they picked it up in the water, but based off of the reports that I’ve heard and the photo and the way that the people are behaving in the photo, it makes it seem like they did catch it, and it was potentially alive at that point.”

There is legislation that prohibits acts like this. The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act states you can’t interfere with dolphins, even if they’re dead.

You could face a $34,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

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