Authorities are investigating a string of attacks on dolphins along the Gulf Coast after some of the marine mammals were found with gunshot wounds and mutilations.
"We responded to one dolphin from Alabama that had its tail cut off," said Dr. Moby Solangi, of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. "We responded to a dolphin this morning from Ship Island that had its lower jaw cut off. In the last week we had a dolphin with a bullet hole in it."
In response, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has asked officials to be on alert for any attacks in the waters off of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
The gentle creatures have long been the star attraction at marine parks around the world and are believed to be the world's second most intelligent animal, making the attacks seem even more incomprehensible.
"I think it's important that everyone understand that this is not only cruel, but it's also illegal," Solangi said.
If the perpetrators are caught, they could face up to a year in jail and fines of up to $100,000.