Murder on the Gulf Coast

The Florida Gulf Coast has become a crime scene.

As horrible as it sounds, at least six dolphins have been killed – murdered – within the last two years along the Florida Gulf Coast. Some were found mutilated, with their tails or jaws hacked off, and one was even reported as having a screwdriver jammed into it’s back. Some were shot with guns, the bullet wounds leaving no doubt that this is the work of a human.

You might be wondering who would want to harm a dolphin. These beings are highly intelligent, friendly, and have even been known to come to the aid of imperiled humans. They are the only wild species I know of that do this. So why shoot one of these innocents?

I have a suspicion that it is the work of a fisherman. There is an all-too-common misconception that dolphins and other marine mammals compete with fishermen, resulting in fewer fish in their nets and less money in their bank accounts.

However, dolphins are absolutely not to blame for declines in fish populations. If anything, this is the fault of unmanaged or over-exploited fisheries, or habitat loss due to pollution, or a host of other factors. People are to blame, not the dolphins.

Another potential culprit could be someone in the oil industry. Dying dolphins were conspicuous during the Deepwater Horizon spill, and could be used as evidence to further restrictions on offshore oil drilling.

At this point, it is impossible to know. That is why I am offering a $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who has murdered these dolphins. If you have any information, please contact NOAA’s Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

Follow @Dolphin_Project for updates on this situation.

Image credits: Associated Press

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About Ric O'Barry

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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.

In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.

Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.

O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.

Author: Ric O'Barry
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