A necropsy revealed that this dolphin found dead on Elmer's Island in Louisiana died of a gunshot wound.
GULFPORT, Miss. - Marine biologists have made a disturbing find recently and are asking for the public’s help a solving the crime.
The head of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi Dr. Moby Solangi said he's been heartbroken to perform necropsies on several dolphins to find that they'd been shot, stabbed, and one had its tail torn off. He said he thinks it's the work of someone "not in their right mind."
Solangi said there have been at least four recent cases in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and a total of six this year.
“Once we got a rash of them, we realized it may be a trend. We started seeing there’s more to it than just mortality, It’s just an odd time when you don’t usually see animals dying at this time of year,” said Solangi.
He doesn't believe the dolphins are being killed for profit because he said the parts being taken don’t seem to be valuable.
“It’s cruel. It’s senseless. It’s repugnant, and it’s illegal,” said Solangi. “Whoever it is, they're deranged. It's not civilized not only to kill animals senselessly, but to mutilate them.”
The dead dolphins were brought to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies for examination and have since been handed over to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
If caught, the criminal(s) could face up to a year in jail and be fined $100,000 for killing the protected species.
“Somebody has to be in the water to be doing this. These animals are very curious they’re very friendly, and they come close to the boat. Somebody is using them as target practice which may be happening,” said Solangi.
Solangi said law enforcement has been notified about the killings and mutilations. He wants fishermen and anyone out on the water to keep your eyes and ears open.
He's hoping people are outraged by the cruel attacks on innocent animals, and that the public will come forward with possible tips about who might be responsible.
You can leave an anonymous tip by calling the IMMS dolphin line at 1-888-767-3657, NOAA at 1-800-853-1964 or Marine Patrol dispatch at 228-523-4134.