Dolphin found dead in Brevard, wrapped in fishing line

Animal was less than 2 years old, rescuers say

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Rescuers found a dead dolphin Monday in Cocoa Beach, with its tail wrapped in fishing line, and officials are urging anglers to recycle fishing gear rather than discarding it.

"He had probably been entangled for a week or more," said Megan Stolen, a research scientist at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in Melbourne Beach.

Hubbs rescuers had tracked the injured dolphin for about a week and had hoped to capture and treat it, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported. But they found the 5-foot animal dead Monday morning in the Banana River, near the end of Bahama Boulevard. They estimated that the dolphin was less than 2 years old.

Rescuers received a call from a kayaker who had seen the dolphin on Sunday.

The animal's tail was tangled in a kind of braided line that Stolen said is much more damaging to dolphins than mono-filament fishing line.

"It's extremely strong, because it's braided, it works through the tissue differently than the mono-filament line," Stolen said. "It sort of saws through the tissue instead of (pulling) through the tissue. It's more like a knife cut."

That gives the wound no time to heal.

Large barnacles had formed on the fishing line, Stolen said, weighing down the animal and indicating that the gear had long been discarded.

Hubbs-SeaWorld also received reports of two other dead dolphins Sunday: one in Mosquito Lagoon at the Canaveral National Seashore and another on the beach side of Cocoa Beach.

"We've been having a lot of calls about dead calves being pushed by their moms," Stolen said.

To report a sick or injured animal or wildlife violations, call the Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC.  Cellphone users can call *FWC or #FWC or send a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.