The recent discovery of two dead dolphins off Florida's Gulf Coast has prompted NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement to offer a hefty reward.
Both dolphins had either been shot or stabbed.
Late last week, biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discovered a dead dolphin off the coast of Naples.
It was either shot or killed with a sharp object.
Within the same week, Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge experts recovered a dolphin with a bullet in its left side along Pensacola Beach.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction of the person or persons responsible for the recent deaths of the two dolphins.
In May 2019, a dolphin was found dead off Captiva Island. It had a puncture wound to its head.
Since 2002, at least 29 dolphins been discovered to be shot by guns or arrows or impaled with objects like fishing spears.
If you have information on any of the incidents, you're urged to call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. Tips may be left anonymously.
DON'T FEED DOLPHINS
Biologists believe these cases may stem from humans feeding wild dolphins. Dolphins fed by people learn to associate people and boats with food which can put them in harmful situations.
Dolphins may suffer fatal impacts from boat strikes, entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear, and acts of intentional harm like these.
People can prevent harm to wild dolphins by not feeding or attempting to feed them.