SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida (WFLA) -- The death of a "relatively young" bottlenose dolphin found Saturday in Florida's Venice Inlet likely was caused when the animal swallowed fishing gear, according to Mote Marine Laboratory.
Scientists at the Sarasota marine facility said the death spotlights the ongoing problem of human interaction with mammals, "a reminder to keep waterways clear of fishing line and other trash that can harm marine animals."
The 27-year-old female was part of a year-round population of bottlenoses in and around Sarasota Bay, according to the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. The scientists have monitored the dolphin since 1985 and referred to it as FB93.
A Sarasota County sheriff's deputy spotted the dolphin floating between Venice and Casey Key. He contacted Mote, which retrieved the carcass for examination.
According to a necropsy, the dolphin most likely died from asphyxiation after swallowing fishing line, which was wrapped tightly and in a slip-knot around her goosebeak, a flexible tube connecting the blowhole to the lungs.
"The line was stretched taut and connected to a hook embedded in the dolphin's melon (forehead)," Mote said in a news release.
Scientists said the dolphin appeared to be in excellent condition before she died.