Over the past several months, dolphins have washed ashore along the Gulf Coast with bullet wounds, missing jaws and hacked-off fins, and federal investigator are looking into the mysterious deaths.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Monday they’re asking everyone from beachgoers to fishermen and wildlife agents to be on the lookout for injured or dead dolphins – and any unusual interaction between the mammals and people.
“There have been some obviously intentional cases,” said Erin Fougeres, a NOAA marine mammal scientist.
Fougeres said five dolphins have been found shot. In Louisiana, two were shot in 2011 and one in 2012. And in Mississippi, three were found shot this year, the most recent one last week, which was first reported by the Sun-Herald newspaper.
Besides the shootings, a dolphin in Alabama was found with a screwdriver stuck in its head over the summer. Another in Alabama had its tail cut off, and that animal survived. Still others were missing fins or had cuts to their bodies.