Authorities are investigating after multiple dolphins have been found stabbed and shot in Florida in recent weeks.
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said a dead dolphin was found off Naples last week by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists and appeared to have been fatally wounded by a bullet or sharp object. Within the same week, Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge experts found a dolphin with a bullet in its left side along Pensacola Beach.
Another dolphin had been found in May 2019 off Captiva Island with a fatal puncture wound to its head. Officials said that since 2002, at least 29 dolphins have stranded in the southeast United States with evidence that they had been shot by guns or arrows or impaled with objects like fishing spears.
Harassing, hunting, killing or feeding wild dolphins, or attempting to do these activities is prohibited under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Violations are punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year in jail per violation.
NOAA officials said all the dolphin incidents remain under investigation, with a $54,000 reward being offered for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction. Anyone with information is asked to call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964.