WFLA web staff - MADEIRA BEACH, FL (WFLA) - A bottlenose dolphin with severe boat propeller injuries on its back and tail was seen near John's Pass this week. The researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Law Enforcement are looking for information about any suspicious activity that might have led to those injuries.
The injured dolphin was first reported by St. Petersburg Police last week, according to NOAA. Experts say illegal feeding may have led to the injuries. Veterinarians consider them life-threatening.
NOAA and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium are monitoring the dolphin's condition, according to NOAA's press release. Experts are asking boaters not to feed this animal and to maintain a safe distance of at least 50 yards to prevent further stress or injuries.
NOAA experts remind that feeding any wild dolphins can cause more harm then good, because it changes their behavior and makes them more vulnerable. They can get injured by boats, get entangled in nets or ingest dangerous items. Feeding and harassing marine animals is also illegal and can result in penalties, fines and even jail time.
Please call (800)853-1964 if you have witnessed any suspicious activity that might have led to the dolphin's injuries. You may remain anonymous.