PINELLAS COUNTY, Florida – A bottlenose dolphin swimming in the waters off of Pinellas County is showing signs of a severe injury. Biologists believe the dolphin was hit by a boat propeller. “This is a really serious injury for this dolphin, and frankly we are surprised that we are seeing some level of improvement,” biologist Laura Engleby said.
Engleby works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She has been monitoring the dolphin by reviewing photos and video. She says many people believe dolphins swim too fast to be injured by boats, but that just isn’t true. It’s a myth that dolphins don’t get hit by boats, Engleby said. “They do, especially when they are focused on something else,” she added.
For now, Engleby and other biologists are keeping an eye on the dolphin. They don’t intend to capture it. Biologists plan to leave the dolphin in its natural environment because they believe the capturing process could further injure the animal.
“It’s really important for people to help. The best thing that they can do is to give this dolphin space. This dolphin is under a lot of stress and it needs every ounce of energy to recover and so the best thing people can do is to keep a distance and not disturb it,” she said.
Captain Jack Steeves runs a dolphin cruise at Hubbard’s Marina at John’s Pass. Lately, he’s been keeping an eye out for the injured dolphin. “We see the dolphin all the time,” Steeves said.
On Wednesday his tour group got an up-close look at the animal. “He seems to be doing okay. The first time that any of our crew saw it would have been two weeks ago this past Sunday, and he seems to be getting along just fine,” Steeves said.