Dolphins swimming in the ocean

Press Release

$5,000 Reward for Information Regarding Dolphin Stabbed to Death in Gulf of Mexico

Animal Legal Defense Fund offers reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the successful identification, arrest and conviction or civil penalty assessment of the person or people responsible for stabbing and killing a dolphin off the Florida Gulf Coast.

On March 24, 2022, a bottlenose dolphin was found deceased on a Fort Myers beach. A necropsy revealed the dolphin to be a lactating mother — likely still caring for her young calf. Based on necropsy results, biologists believe the dolphin was killed while begging — with her head above water and her mouth open. She was stabbed in the head, just above her right eye, with a spear-like object. This killing is the 31st intentional dolphin death via stabbing or shooting in the Gulf of Mexico in the last two decades.

Under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is prohibited to harass, harm, feed, or kill a wild dolphin. The maximum penalty is a $100,000 fine and a year’s imprisonment.

“Animal victims deserve justice. This dolphin’s death was intentional — and the individual(s) responsible must be held accountable,” says 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.”

If you have information related to this incident, please contact the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Law Enforcement Hotline at 1(800) 853-1964. Please include your name and contact information when calling enforcement if you would like to be considered eligible for the reward. Tips may also be left anonymously.

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