Dolphins Killed on Florida Beach, Police Offer Reward for Information: 'It Takes a Very Stupid Human to Do That'

Police have launched an investigation into the death of two dolphins who were found with gruesome bullet and stab wounds along the beaches of Florida's Gulf Coast last month.

One of the dolphins was found in Naples off the southwest coast of Florida with fatal wounds that appeared to be either from a bullet or stabbing or both, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) confirmed.

The other dolphin was discovered by the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge with a bullet wound on its left side along Pensacola Beach in Florida Pandle near the border with Alabama.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office for Law Enforcement is offering up to $20,000 to anyone who shares information leading to those responsible for the recent dolphin deaths.

The deaths may have been related to humans feeding wild dolphins, experts believe. Dolphins are known to associate people and boats with food when they're fed by people, making them more vulnerable to harmful situations such as the latest acts of violence, according to the NOAA.

"We think these dolphins were in begging posture when they were intentionally harmed. Do not reach out to that animal, do not offer it food, and do not offer to pet or touch it or lure it to the boat in any way. All of these things change the dolphin's behaviors," Stacey Horstman, the Bottlenose Dolphin Conservation Coordinator for the NOAA, told Fox 13.

Since 2002, at least 29 dolphins have been found with evidence of being wounded by a gun, arrows or pierced by fishing spears or other sharp objects in the southeast of the country, she noted.

"We've had [dolphins] intentionally killed up here, I pulled up a dolphin a few years ago that had a 9mm slug to the head. It takes a very stupid human to do that," Captain Fred Debardelaben, who has taken dolphin cruises along the coast of St. Petersburg, Florida, for nearly 28 years, told Fox 13.

Anyone who with information that may lead to those responsible for the latest deaths can call the NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement at 1-800-853-1964.

Any act of harassing, hunting, killing or feeding wild dolphins, or attempting any of these acts, is banned and punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and up to a year in jail under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states.

Back in May 2019, a bottlenose dolphin was found dead washed ashore on Florida's Upper Captiva Island in Lee County. The dolphin was found to have been stabbed in its head with a sharp "spear-like" object, according to the FFWCC.

Dolphin Naples Florida 2018
A dolphin surfaces near the Naples Pier on September 7, 2018 in Naples, Florida. Getty Images