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Authorities Offer $20,000 for Help Solving a Dolphin Murder Case
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The grisly discovery of two dead dolphins- one with a stab wound to the head, and the other with a gunshot wound to the face- in Naples, Florida has prompted a plea for help by the federal authorities who have proposed a hefty reward for a helpful information to solve the case, the New York Times reported.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discovered the first dead dolphin on 30 January, when it washed ashore off Naples with a wound to its face.

The animal was fatally wounded from what appeared to be a bullet and/or a sharp object,” said a statement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

  
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Within the same week, biologists with the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge found another male dolphin with a bullet wound on its left side-lying on the beach.

Officials are now offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction of the responsible person or people for the atrocious crimes.  

Biologists suspect the recent deaths were the result of people feeding the animals, which tend to “let their guard down” around people. 

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When dolphins are fed, their behavior changes. They lose their natural wariness of people and boats,” explains Stacey Horstman, a bottlenose dolphin conservation coordinator at NOAA. “The best advice is not to feed them, not to reach out to them. The seemingly innocent act of feeding dolphins can lead to harm and something like this.” Horstman added.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act bans hunting, harassing, killing or feeding wild dolphins, and people can face up to one year in jail and $100,000 in fines for violating the ban.



The NOAA actively enforce these rules with the recent prosecution of a Kansas man, who was fined $1,250 for feeding a dolphin while on vacation in Florida. As well as conviction and jail sentence of a fishing captain who threw homemade pipe bombs at dolphins.

Dolphins fed by people learn to associate people and boats with food, which can put them in harmful situations,” said the NOAA. “Dolphins may suffer fatal impacts from boat strikes, entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear, and acts of intentional harm like these. You can prevent harm to wild dolphins by not feeding or attempting to feed them.”

Since 2002, at least 29 dolphins including the recent two have been gruesomely shot by guns or arrows or impaled with fishing spears. In May 2019, a bottlenose dolphin was found dead off Captiva Island, Florida with a fatal puncture wound to its head. In July 2018, veterinarians found a bullet in the lung of a pregnant bottlenose dolphin that had washed up on a beach in Mississippi. The case remains unsolved, despite the $11,500 reward that was offered to help solve it.

Though bottlenose dolphins are not considered endangered in the United States, they live close to shore and are at risk of environmental degradation and being caught in nets.

Anybody with information regarding these cases is encouraged to contact the NOAA or leave tips anonymously.

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