A 19-year-old fisherman from North Florida recently found himself at the center of online outrage and state and federal investigations after posting a picture on Instagram of himself holding a dolphin out of the water. The caption read, “Gotta do what you gotta do to catch a fish.” The image quickly went viral, prompting a wave of condemnation.
However, the young man has since apologized, stating that it was a misunderstanding. He clarified that he did not catch the dolphin himself and that the animal was already dead when he and his friends found it washed up on the shore. In an exclusive interview, he expressed remorse, saying, “I’m sorry, and I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. And I did not hurt the dolphin. I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t supposed to touch it, and I would never do it again.”
Dr. Quincy Gibson, from the University of North Florida’s Dolphin Research Program, corroborated the fisherman’s claim, stating that a biologist had reported a 1-year-old male calf that was found dead in the same area where the photo was taken. She added that it was highly likely that the dolphin had died before it was picked up, but the behavior displayed in the photo made it seem otherwise.
Picking up a dolphin out of the water can be harmful to the animal. Dolphins, like whales, breathe air from their lungs and require buoyancy to breathe easily when they surface. The weight of their bodies when out of the water can restrict or crush their lungs.
According to the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, it is illegal to feed, harass, or interfere with dolphins, with penalties of fines up to $20,000 per occurrence and/or a year in jail.
While the fisherman has not been arrested, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries is investigating the incident. If individuals encounter injured or dead dolphins, they are advised to contact the NOAA Fisheries hotline or other relevant authorities to report the situation and follow their guidelines.
– [Action News Jax](https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/trending-now/fishermans-epic-apology-after-photo-shows-him-holding-dolphin-out-of-water/931381317)
– [Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida](https://fwfonline.org/2019/04/17/stranded-dolphins-winter2019)
– [NOAA Fisheries](https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/webdam/download/43583896)