The body of a pregnant dolphin was discovered Friday on the shores of Miramar Beach, Florida. Authorities say the wild dolphin was the victim of a deadly gunshot wound in a series of disturbing violence against dolphins.
A bullet was recovered from the dolphin’s body and appears to be from a small caliber gun. The bullet was lodged into the lung, and it appears as if the dolphin was shot from the side. Authorities from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement have said that she was killed just weeks before her calf was due to be born, making this latest act of violence towards dolphins even more tragic.
Often called the “ambassadors of the sea,” dolphins have long had a special way of inspiring and connecting with humans, and conservation efforts of late have stepped up to try and end captivity of marine mammals like dolphins and to protect their habitats in the wild. While most people are working hard to protect marine life, some are targeting them for senseless violence, and it has authorities worried that they are starting to see a trend with a rise in the violence.
Over the past decade, at least 17 cases of gun shot wounds have been documented in dolphins in the gulf coast as well as other violent deaths, and it is believed that there are probably many more incidents of dolphins killed that have not been discovered. Authorities are urging the public to come forward with any information that they may have, and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is offering a reward of $2,500 for any information that leads to the identification and conviction of the individuals involved.
Harming a dolphin is a violation of federal law under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, which makes it illegal to harm, harass, or kill a dolphin in U.S. waters, and the protected dolphins are already facing threats to their habitat in the wake of the gulf oil spill. Destructive fishing practices, boating accidents, and ocean pollution have also posed a threat to the bottle nosed dolphins and other marine life.
Providing the majority of the planet’s oxygen, our oceans are essential to the survival of life on Earth, so more is being done to help protect to the seas and their inhabitants around the world, and especially in places like Florida, where the areas wildlife and beaches are a huge part of the state’s tourism revenues. As a result, authorities are taking attacks on dolphins like this very seriously.
Authorities are asking anyone with information to contact the hotline established by NOAA Office of Law Enforcement at 1-800-853-1964, where they can leave an anonymous tip if they do not wish to give their name.