GULFPORT, Miss. — Marine biologists and law-enforcement officials are on the hunt for someone or a group of people who have been intentionally maiming and killing dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to a report from the Biloxi Sun Herald, on Friday a team from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies found a dolphin washed ashore with its lower jaw missing. This comes a week after another dolphin was found washed ashore along the Mississippi coast with a 9mm bullet wound, and a dolphin was found with its tail cut off along the Louisiana coast.
“We think there’s someone or some group on a rampage,” said Moby Solangi with the IMMS. “They not only kill them but also mutilate them.”
Earlier this year, another dolphin off the coast of Alabama was stabbed and killed with a screwdriver, while several others have been found with bullet and stab wounds.
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a “head-up” directive for environmental and enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for human-interaction (HI) related dolphin strandings.
“Please be aware that we are seeing a marked increase in HI strandings along the northern Gulf,” the directive said, adding, “We are requesting a ‘heightened awareness’ and continued careful documentation as you examine all future carcasses.”
Under federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, anyone found harassing, harming, killing or feeding wild dolphins can be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in jail for each violation.