Both dolphins succumbed to bullet wounds, a pattern that has become increasingly common. Officials are on the lookout for the perpetrators of this act of animal cruelty.
Human cruelty truly knows no bounds. Recently, two dolphins were found washed up off the Florida coast within a week of each other. Both dolphins were found with bullet wounds, which are thought to be the cause of death. At present, authorities do not have answers for who could have been responsible for these despicable acts or if the deaths are connected. Therefore, they have announced a $20,000 reward for anyone who can come forward with helpful information. Should officials catch the perpetrators of the crime, they could be punished with a civil penalty or criminal conviction, CNN reports.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, 29 dolphins have been stranded in the Southeast alone since 2002. Four of these cases happened to take place last year. The NOAA affirms that there is evidence to link the dolphins' deaths with sharp objects such as bullets, fishing spears, or arrows. The two most recent cases involve bullet wounds or wounds from other sharp objects. The first dolphin was discovered late last week by biologists working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission off of Naples as per NOAA Fisheries. This dolphin is reported to have died because of a bullet or sharp object wound.
Meanwhile, a second dolphin was discovered by Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge researchers that same week. They found the dolphin along Pensacola Beach with a bullet lodged in the left side of its body. Furthermore, just last May, a deceased dolphin was discovered by NOAA officials off Captiva Island. It had a fatal puncture wound to its head. Needless to say, this pattern of animal cruelty has been incredibly worrisome. Therefore, officials are hoping to put an end to these practices. In order to do so, they are looking for any information that may be helpful in tracking down the perpetrators responsible for the recent cases.
To persuade folks to come forward, NOAA officials are offering a reward of $20,000 for anyone who has information that eventually leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction in the case. In the meantime, NOAA Fisheries recommends that people prevent potential harm to wild dolphins by not feeding them. This is because people feeding wild dolphins may have trained the animals to associate boats and humans with food. This association may have put them in a vulnerable position, allowing someone to lure in a wild dolphin with the intention to harm. It can only be hoped that the perpetrators are caught soon and swiftly brought to justice. Perhaps their conviction will set an example for other potential perpetrators and dissuade them from committing such terrible acts of animal cruelty.