Fishermen shooting at dolphins over fish

 Dolphins may need to resort to wearing bullet proof vests if they know what's good for them.

Anglers have started packing heat to keep opportunistic dolphins from stealing their catch.  Boat captains are claiming that dolphins are getting increasingly aggressive, to the point where some are taking fish right off the hook during fishing charters. As a result charges have been laid against several captains, one for tossing pipe bombs at the bottlenose dolphins and two others for pulling out pistols - one being a .357 magnum - to get rid of the pesky marine mammals.

High fuel prices are one of the reasons for the retaliation as even short fishing trips cost hundreds of dollars. Having the dolphins steal their catch right off the line is the last straw for many anglers,  giving rise to incidents of dolphins washing ashore with bullet wounds; four were reported new San Diego, California in 2007 with no charges being laid.

So why are the dolphins resorting to stealing their food off the fishing lines to eat? A representative from the National Marine Fisheries Service in St. Petersburg,  Florida thinks it has to do with people feeding dolphins on sightseeing tours in resort towns. The dolphins start to associate humans with food and hang around for an easy handout.

Fisherman on the other hand are taking this as an opportunity to complain about recent federal fishing limits that require them to release large numbers of undersized fish.  These fish are often ejected right into the jaws of waiting dolphins they complain. It seems that while the fishermen have been complying with federal release laws, they've also been feeding these same undersized fish to the dolphins, conditioning them in the process.

Randall Wells, a dolphin expert has suggested that anglers shouldn't release fish near any dolphins.

Wow, there's a thought!

However the federal regulations don't require the fisherman to account for the presence of dolphins before they release their cast-offs. It seems the fisherman would prefer to pull a gun or start tossing pipe bombs rather than open their eyes and use a little common sense instead.

Whether the fishermen are armed with guns or not, the dolphins are getting the worst of it. Since 2005 forty-six dolphins have died along the Florida coast due to swallowing recreational fishing lures or becoming entangled in fishing lines.

The ship captain that pleaded guilty to tossing pipe bombs has been imprisoned for two years, maybe the rest of these pistol-packing anglers will get the hint.

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