Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling

It’s Time To Breach The Snake River Dams

The Snake River dams were controversial even before they were built.  While they were still...
Save the whale. Save the world.

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Nat Geo for Disney+ Luis Lamar

Five Facts About Orcas

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable and popular species...
Alexi Archer cropped

Meet the 2022 Interns: Alexi Archer

I am thrilled to welcome Alexi to WDC as the newest member of our Marine...
Saya

Meet the 2022 Interns: Saya Butani

I'm happy to welcome the newest member of the WDC team, Saya Butani, who is...
Block Island wind credit: Regina Asutis-Silvia

Offshore Wind: Don’t Blow It

Recently, new areas were added to the growing list of potential sites for offshore wind...
Sierra

Meet the 2022 Interns: Sierra Osborne

I'm delighted to introduce WDC's Conservation Education intern for Summer 2022, Sierra Osborne! Without hesitation,...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...

Another dolphin found shot in the Gulf of Mexico

WDC has reported on the growing number of incidents of dolphin vandalism in the Gulf of Mexico over the past several years, and has even offered rewards to encourage the public to help identify the perpetrators of these crimes.  We have shared our concern about an apparent and emerging regional trend involving the directed violence against bottlenose dolphins. Most recently, WDC received word of yet another dolphin death involving a gunshot wound in the panhandle region of Florida just west of Destin, near Okaloosa Island, Florida. 

According to the necropsy, this incident involved an older male dolphin that was found with a bullet lodged in his shoulder near the back of his head on May 9th.

The panhandle region of the Gulf of Mexico is known by regulatory agencies and conservation organizations as a ‘hotbed’ area of harassment. Interactions between humans and wild dolphins routinely occur through close vessel approaches or through direct contact associated with commercial or recreational fisheries, swim-with, or feeding activities. Such interactions are of serious concern for wild dolphin welfare and conservation under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, as well as for human safety.

In recent years, an alarming number of dolphins in this region have been fatally wounded by gunshot, hunting arrows, or sharp tools (i.e., screwdriver). The harassment or ‘take’ of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) resulting from increasing opportunities to encounter this species in the wild through commercial or recreational activities which put humans in close proximity to wild populations is of growing concern within the United States. The take of marine mammals, including harassment and feeding, is illegal under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and concern is growing over human-dolphin interactions concentrated in certain coastal areas in the Gulf of Mexico where injuries or fatalities to bottlenose dolphins, specifically, have been documented.

These encounters, which bear great potential and risk for injury to the public and to individual dolphins and populations, may take the form of interaction with recreational or commercial fishing vessels and gear; direct interaction with humans through feeding or swim-with activities; or encounters with vessels during whale or dolphin viewing activities. Impacts to wild dolphins from these activities include conditioning and alteration of normal foraging and resting behaviors; disturbance and ultimate dispersal of populations from preferred habitat; injury from vessel strikes or directed harm, and reduced reproductive success, all of which can threaten survival.

Federal authorities continue to seek information relating to what appears to be a pattern of violence against dolphins along the coastlines of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Bottlenose dolphin stranding data maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show an apparent increase in the number of dolphins stranding dead with evidence of a gunshot wound in the northern Gulf of Mexico. From 2002-2014, at least 19 dolphins have stranded with gunshot wounds, with 63 percent of those occurring since 2010. These incidents are cause for concern considering the potential trauma and suffering experienced by individual dolphins in these cases, and also total unknown impacts on wild populations. The numbers of individuals recovered may only represent a fraction of total numbers of animals that may never wash to shore, strand, or become available to recovery efforts.

WDC is asking anyone with details about this incident to contact NOAA Law Enforcement at 1-800-853-1964. Tips can be left anonymously.