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Rewards offered after dolphin 'harassed to death' on Texas beach, another impaled in Florida

Rewards are being offered in two recent deadly incidents involving dolphins — one that was “harassed to death” on a Texas beach and a second in Florida that was impaled, officials said.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a $20,000 reward was being offered in a March 24 case, in which a dolphin was found dead from impalement with a spear-like object on a Fort Myers Beach.

“It is suspected that the dolphin was impaled while in a begging position,” NOAA said. “Begging is not a natural behavior for dolphins and is frequently associated with illegal feeding.” 

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is offering a second $20,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest or prosecution of those involved in a dolphin’s death in Texas, the agency said in April 26 statement.

That dolphin died after washing ashore at Quintana Beach, southwest of Galveston, on April 10. The mammal was pushed back into deeper water as some beachgoers tried to “ride the sick animal,” the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network said on Facebook.

A headline for NOAA’s statement says the bottlenose dolphin was “harassed to death.” Its cause of death was drowning, NOAA said in the statement.

Such a demise is rare but not impossible for marine mammals, which are more tolerant to surviving without abundant air. An examination by Scientific American concludes some can die when they panic or when they are unable to get to the surface for air.

When people encounter stranded dolphins they should call a rescue organization, keep the animal upright, keep water out of its blowhole, and pour water on it, according to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network’s website.

Crowds should be kept away, and the dolphin shouldn’t be returned to sea because “they strand for a reason,” the network said.

The NOAA notes that harassing, harming, killing or feeding wild dolphins is illegal under federal law and violators can be fined $100,000 and be sentenced to one year behind bars.

In the Quintana Beach case, the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network said on Facebook the marine mammal “ultimately stranded and was further harassed by a crowd of people on the beach where she later died before rescuers could arrive on scene.”

“This type of harassment causes undue stress to wild dolphins, is dangerous for the people who interact with them, and is illegal,” it said.

On Wednesday the group said it successfully rescued a dolphin after it was found stranded in High Island, in Galveston County. The marine mammal sustained shark bites and had signs of respiratory disease and chronic illness, the group said.

Despite receiving proper care from those who discovered it, the dolphin had to be euthanized, the network said.

On Wednesday the group said it successfully rescued a dolphin after it was found stranded in High Island, in Galveston County. The marine mammal sustained shark bites and had signs of respiratory disease and chronic illness, the group said.

Despite receiving proper care from those who discovered it, the dolphin had to be euthanized, the network said.

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