A baby dolphin is believed to have died after a Florida man retrieved it from the sea for an Instagram photo.
No charges have yet been filed against the 19-year-old suspect – and he claims the one-year-old male calf was already dead when he found it under a bridge on Nassau Sound.
But the teenager, who is not named, previously shared posts defending his pickup, calling his death an “accident” and a “one off” photo.
Marine biologists have since confirmed that the calf found dead on Wednesday was the same one sported by the young angler in the circulating photo.
Both posts have since been deleted, but not before sparking widespread outrage and even a federal investigation. The probe, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has not resulted in any charges as of Thursday.
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No charges have yet been filed against the 19-year-old suspect – and he claims the one-year-old male calf was already dead when he found it under a bridge on Nassau Sound
Marine biologists have since confirmed that the calf found dead on Wednesday was the same one sported by the young angler in the circulating photo
However, several marine biologists confirmed to News4Jax – the first to report the controversy – that the young dolphin featured in the mariner’s photo is the same one found dead days later.
The tail, said Dr. Quincy Gibson of the University of North Florida’s Dolphin Research Program on Tuesday said it was in the creature’s dorsal fins.
“The shape matches that in the photograph in which the dolphin is held,” Gibson told the North Florida outlet after being brought into the investigation by local wildlife officials.
Citing the internal biology that causes sea creatures to suffocate when taken out of the water, she said, “Everyone seems to agree on this and it shows.”
Gibson added that the photo of the teenager – who later defended his actions in an interview with the outlet – was almost certainly taken under the bridge, where the dead baby dolphin was found by a biologist shortly after.
The photo of the teenager – who later defended his actions in an interview with the outlet – was almost certainly taken under the bridge where the dead baby dolphin was found
Another marine expert corroborated Gibson’s claims, and a local fisherman added that he saw the teenager’s reshared post online
Another marine expert corroborated Gibson’s claims, and a local fisherman added that he saw the teenager’s reshared post online.
“I was instantly furious,” Jacksonville’s Kevin Beaugrand recalled of the now-deleted post, which screenshots show sparked a storm of backlash.
He called the decision to protect the protected creature “a crime against nature” and, like others, was particularly upset by the dolphin’s age.
That anger was erupted when it emerged earlier this week that there was a strong possibility that the dolphin featured in the photo died at the hands of the man’s actions – leading to the teen bizarrely describing the incident on Instagram as an “accident “ referred to.
‘It was a[sic] Accident,” read the now-deleted response from the fisherman, obtained by News4Jax, amid a chorus of public opinion raging on. “Why are you casting so much shadow?”
A viewer then reacted angrily at the teenager, citing the well-known principle that dolphins are protected by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and are therefore prohibited for any aspiring angler.
A viewer reacted angrily at the teenager, citing the well-known principle that dolphins are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act
The stern response, also screenshotted by News4Jax, read, “If it’s you.”[sic] “You’re dumb enough to pull exactly one dolphin out of the water, but you have to stay as far away from the seabud as possible.”
The reprimand quickly prompted a response from the fisherman, in which he appeared to wipe off the makeup he had just been given.
“Man whatever,” the snide post read, before the teen apparently offered a reason for flouting such well-known local laws for a mere photo opportunity.
That statement, which has since also been deleted, simply read: “Once in a lifetime, catch a bycatch dolphin from shore.”
The observer, mistaking himself for a fisherman like many other outraged, would then reply, ‘You give the rest of us a bad name.’ Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, idiot.’
He was quick to add, ‘You obviously don’t even show remorse for your actions.’ Entitled Punk.’
During this period of backlash, local wildlife officials turned over their investigation into the discovered dolphin corpse to NOAA and began a full federal investigation to determine if the creature died at the hands of an outside party.
Also during this period, the teenager in question claimed he received death threats over the controversy after a report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed the discovery of the dead one-year-old man.
He also issued a brief statement to News Jax, apparently dating back to several of his since-deleted social media posts, explaining he and his friends retrieved the animal – which likely weighed around 40 pounds – after seeing it it looked lifeless in the water.
“We were trying to find out if it’s still alive or if we can revive it,” the man insisted. ‘There was nothing we could do.’
Still, he snapped a photo with the unauthorized catch before proudly posting the finished product online, appearing to be smiling in the photo.
One of his companions, seen in the background, proudly shows his middle finger at the camera while his friend appears to be struggling to keep the weight.
Gibson told News4Jax that it’s hard to tell if the dolphin in the photo is dead, but if it is, then it wasn’t long given the condition of its skin in the photo.
She told the station on Tuesday, shortly after NOAA became involved, “I think it’s very likely that it died after that – but there’s a very small chance that it just recently died when they picked it up in the water.” “
However, the scientist was quick to add: “But based on the reports I’ve heard and the photo and the way people are behaving in the photo, it seems like they caught it and it may still have been.” alive.’ Period.’
However, the teenager in the photo has yet to be charged and has not been identified by name – although it is still against the law to deal with dolphins, even if they are dead.
This is due to the Federal Marina Mammal Protection Act, which protects both living and deceased dolphins from being harassed, hunted, captured or even touched by humans.
Additionally, as several experts have pointed out, dolphins, like the bottlenose dolphin in both photos, rely on buoyancy to breathe – meaning when they are removed from the natural underwater environment, breathing becomes difficult.
If prosecuted, the man faces civil penalties of up to $34,457 plus a year in prison and additional fines.