Dolphin's death blamed on humans
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
NAPLES- Beggar, the dolphin, dies in Sarasota. The dolphin was known for begging behavior and was one of the most studied wild dolphins because of his behavior.
"Dolphins generally stay underwater for no longer than 3 minutes, pretty shallow area," said Kent Morse/10,000 Island Dolphin Project.
Kent Morse studies bottlenose dolphins in the shallow waters of Collier County. He's gone out on more than 2,000 boat trips.
"The ethic we try to maintain on this boat is to observe them without altering their behavior at all."
Keith tracks more than 300 dolphins in our area and identifies them by their fin.
" We photograph them and the distinctive feature on the dolphin is there dorsal fin. The bites, scratches, nicks are used to set them apart."
Kent keeps his distance from the mammals because if people get too close it can change a dolphin's behavior and make them dependent on people. That is what happened with Beggar, a dolphin in Sarasota who recently died.
"He was legendary for a dolphin that got accustomed to being fed by people."
The dolphin loved free handouts. A picture shows boaters illegally feeding the animal. Mote Marine says people are to blame for his death. The dolphin had several ulcers in its stomach from being fed inappropriate food.
"We have lots of documentation of people feeding him anything from chips, to beer to hot dogs to Twinkies," said Gretchen Lovewell, manager of Motes Stranding Investigations Program.
Kent has also witnessed boaters feeding dolphins, but that is not the only man-made problem these animals face.
"We had a dolphin last year, it had a pretty serious life-threatening injuries. There was fishing line wrapped around its fluke, cutting down to the bone," said Morse.
He hopes dolphins like Beggar remind boaters to observe from a distance.
"It's not just a generic population of dolphins. They are individuals and each individuals can develop habits, either healthy or unhealthy," said Morse.
Feeding a dolphin is illegal. Violators can face up to a $100,000 fine and up to one year in jail for each violation.