Beggar the Dolphin: Did Contact with Humans Lead to his Death

For twenty years Beggar the dolphin was a local icon and tourist attraction. He lived in the Intracoastal Waterway around Nokomis and the Casey Key area. His body was found near the Albee Road Bridge, a spot he could often be found begging and doing tricks for food. He was so successful with this pursuit that he spent more time attempting to get food from humans than foraging on his own and had very little interactions with other dolphins.

Mote Laboratory has studied Beggar for quite some time to illustrate how humans can hurt wild animals. His habits landed him in study after study in scientific papers around the world so scientists could learn more about the effects of feeding wild animals and dolphins. Thanks to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, feeding dolphins can land someone a fine up to $100,000 plus a year in jail.

In a news release, Gretchen Lovewell, head of Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program said “We can’t say which of these many injuries was the ultimate cause of death for Beggar but all of our findings indicate that he was in poor health for a long time and that his interactions with humans played a role. Boat strike wounds, fishing hooks and line in his stomach-even the squid beaks we found-all of these things indicate that he was spending more time attempting to get food from humans that foraging on his own.”


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