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$5,000 reward offered to find Florida dolphin killer

The bottlenose dolphin was stabbed to death off the Florida Gulf Coast.
Credit: NOAA

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A $5,000 reward is being offered to find the person who's responsible for killing a dolphin near the Florida Gulf Coast, wrote the Animal Legal Defense Fund in a news release.

The mammal was found dead on a beach in Fort Myers on March 24 with its head above water and mouth open. There was also a stabbing with a "spear-like object" above the dolphin's right eye.

"A necropsy revealed the dolphin to be a lactating mother — likely still caring for her young calf," stated the news release. "Based on necropsy results, biologists believe the dolphin was killed while begging."

The killing marks the 31st time someone stabbed or shot a dolphin to death in the Gulf of Mexico over the last two decades.

The maximum penalty for killing, harassing, feeding or harming a wild dolphin is a $100,000 fine and one year in prison, according to the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. 

“Animal victims deserve justice. This dolphin’s death was intentional and the individual responsible must be held accountable,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Animal cruelty is a serious crime, and it is critical for individuals with information to report it to authorities. We commend the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for its diligence in investigating this crime.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to get in touch with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Law Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964.

Those who decide to talk to law enforcement must provide their name and contact information to potentially qualify for the $5,000 reward. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

To learn more about the reward and the death of the bottlenose dolphin, click here