TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Authorities are asking the public for information about a dolphin that was recently found dead on Fort Myers Beach with a stab wound above its right eye.
The bottlenose dolphin, found on March 24, was impaled in the head with a “spear-like object” while it was still alive, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
A necropsy, non-human autopsy, found that the animal appeared to have died from the trauma, which occurred at or near the time of death. The dolphin was an adult lactating female.
Based on the shape, size and characteristics of the wound, authorities said they suspected the dolphin was impaled while in a “begging” position.
“Begging is not a natural behavior for dolphins and is frequently associated with illegal feeding,” NOAA said.
Since 2002, at least 27 dolphins have been stranded with evidence of being shot by guns, arrows, or impaled with sharp objects.
Harassing, harming, killing, or feeding a wild dolphin is considered illegal. Violators can be punished by up to $100,000 in fines and up to 1 year in jail per violation.
NOAA law enforcement officials ask anyone with information on this incident to call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964. Tips can be left anonymously.