Dolphin found dead in Southwest Florida after being impaled in head

UPPER CAPTIVA ISLAND, Fla. (WSVN) — Officials are searching for the person responsible for impaling a dolphin in the head with a spear off the coast of Southwest Florida.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement said the bottlenose dolphin had been found dead along Upper Captiva Island in Lee County at the end of May. The animal was recovered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Investigators said results of a necropsy show that they animal was impaled with a spear-like object while it was still alive.

“There was a wound penetrating from above and in front of the right eye, extending almost 6 inches toward the top and back of the head,” officials said. “The wound ended inside the head at the top of the skull and had evidence of hemorrhaging, indicating wounds consistent with being impaled prior to death.”

The dolphin was an adult male that biologists were familiar with. He was last seen swimming around fishing boats and was seen with “begging dolphins.” Officials said the wound shows that the dolphin may have been in a begging position when he was stabbed.

NOAA said it is illegal to feed or attempt to feed wild dolphins. The practice also puts the animals at risk because dolphins will learn to associate people, boats and fishing gear with food, putting them and people in harmful situations.

Harassing, harming, killing or feeding wild dolphins is against the law, and violations are punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year in jail.

A combined reward of $38,000 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest to the person or persons responsible.

If you have any information on this incident, call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. Tips may be left anonymously.

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