(GULF COAST) - In 30 years, marine biologist Dr. Moby Solangi has never seen anything so evil.
“It’s cruel, it’s repugnant, and it’s illegal,” said Dr. Solangi, executive director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. “This person seems to be someone that is slightly deranged.”
Dead dolphins have been washing up from Louisiana to Alabama. Some have been shot, slashed, and even had body parts hacked off. Last weekend, a dolphin was discovered on Dauphin Island with its tail chopped off. Days later, a dolphin with its bottom jaw cut out washed up on Ship Island near Gulfport.
All six dolphins have been brought for necropsies at the IMMS facility in Gulfport.
“Not only have they been killed, but they’ve been mutilated,” Dr. Solangi told Local 15. “It’s very disturbing.”
Dr. Solangi said NOAA, the Coast Guard, and local law enforcement agencies have been put on alert. Bullets recovered from the dolphin’s bodies have been sent to a lab for forensic testing.
Dr. Solangi said the first dead dolphin was discovered in January, but it wasn’t until the recent rash of killings over the past few weeks scientists realized they were witnessing a killing spree.
Dolphins are a protected species. Dr. Solangi said the culprit would face a $100,000 fine and one year behinds bars for each dolphin killed.
Dr. Solangi said dolphins are friendly and curious animals, and the killer is most likely taking advantage of that.
“If you go out on a boat they ride your bow,” Dr. Solangi said. “It’s that curiosity that brings them close to you, and this person is using them for target practice.”
Dr. Solangi fears there may be more dead dolphins out there that have yet to wash up.
With so many commercial and recreational fishermen out on the water, Dr. Solangi thinks it’s only a matter of time before the killer is spotted.
“It’s important that the public is appalled by this,” Dr. Solangi said. “The more eyes we have out there, the better off we’ll be catching the perpetrator.”