Authorities search for dolphin mutilator

Authorities search for dolphin mutilator
All About Animals

POSTED: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 8:00am

UPDATED: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 8:04am

There is growing concern across the Gulf of Mexico that someone is shooting and mutilating dolphins.

Authorities said at least six dolphins have washed ashore in the past 11 months.

Scientists said they found one dolphin on Deer Island this weekend. It was found dead with part of its jaw missing.

The attacks string from Louisiana to Florida along the coastline and have spurred a criminal investigation.

"It has to be a deranged person. It is cruel. It is senseless. It is repugnant, and it's illegal," said Moby Solangi of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. "They are ambassadors of their species to human beings, and to see them killed and mutilated is really heartbreaking."

Experts said dolphins often they put themselves in harm's way because of their friendly, inquisitive nature.

"That's what gets them into trouble. They are very curious. They are friendly. They come close to a boat, and someone who is really not realizing what they should be doing, in an uncivilized manner, shoots them and kills them," Solangi said.

Scientists said they fear someone or some group is on some sort of rampage, and they're urging the public to be eyes and ears and help authorities catch those responsible.

"They are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. There are law enforcement agents looking. They have forensic evidence now with the bullets we have recovered, and so sooner or later, the perpetrators will be found," Solangi said.

The institute said it has responded to four incidents in recent months.

Experts said dolphins are already stressed by a Gulf Dead Zone and the BP oil spill.

Anyone convicted of killing a dolphin could face a $100,000 fine per animal and a year in jail.

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