56ºF

Reward more than $50K in cases of Florida dolphins shot, stabbed

Biologists believe these cases may stem from humans feeding wild dolphins.

After two dolphins were recently found dead in Florida, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is offering up to a $54,000 reward for more information.

Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discovered a dead dolphin off Naples, Florida late last week. The animal appeared to have been shot with a bullet or a sharp object.

The same week, Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge experts found a dolphin with a bullet in its left side along Pensacola Beach, Florida, NOAA reports.

A dolphin, also with a fatal puncture wound to its head, was found dead off Captiva Island in May 2019.

Since 2002, at least 29 dolphins, including the dolphins found last week, have stranded in the Southeast U.S. There is evidence they were shot by guns or arrows or impaled with objects like fishing spears. Four incidents have occurred within the last year, NOAA said.

Allison Burns, a marine mammal biologist with the FWC, said that human interaction with these mammals is a leading cause of injuries.

“In reality, it’s really dangerous. It can be dangerous for humans. They can get bit by dolphins who are looking for food and don’t get it right away,” said Burns.

NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement and our agency partners are offering combined rewards of up to $54,000 ($34,000 from our partners and up to $20,000 from NOAA). We are looking for information leading to the:

Biologists believe these cases may stem from humans feeding wild dolphins.

NOAA officials are seeking information from anyone who may have details about these incidents to call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964. Tips may be left anonymously.

This dolphin was shot and killed along Florida's Gulf coast.
This dolphin was shot and killed along Florida's Gulf coast. (NOAA)

About the Authors: