The Ministry of Blue Economy & Civil Aviation and the Belize Fisheries Department are saddened and express extreme displeasure with the killing of a Bottlenose dolphin in Northern Belize in the vicinity of Progresso and Little Belize Lagoon.

The incident has prompted the Belize Fisheries Department to remind the general public of the protected status of Bottlenose dolphins. Acting Fisheries Administrator Mr. Rigoberto Quintana noted, “Bottlenose dolphins are highly intelligent and social marine mammals. We denounce the senseless killing of the animal and lament the loss of this valuable animal as its species is a contributor to Belize’s biodiversity and has high ecological importance.”

The incident reportedly occurred around the 17th of July 2021 and was confirmed by the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD) research and monitoring team that swiftly responded to reports of a dead Dolphin apparently shot in the Progresso/Little Belize Lagoon. The SACD team was assisted by members of the Little Belize community. Reports are that a private property caretaker in the area had secured the Dolphin found floating on the lagoon. The snout was found already partially deteriorated with what appeared to be evidence of a crocodile having already commenced feeding on the carcass.

The SACD team that responded conducted an on-site necropsy and confirmed that the cause of death was due to a shotgun wound found approximately 20 cm below the dorsal fin. Six pellets were recovered during the necropsy from nine holes left by presumably a 12 gauge 00 ("double-ought") buck shell shotgun.

Dolphins are protected under the Fisheries Resources Act No. 7 of 2020. The Belize Fisheries Department reminds the public that anyone found to have killed or to have in their possession a marine mammal commits an offence punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. The Department advises the public to report any incidents involving any marine mammal by calling telephone number 224-4552 or by emailing [email protected]


Bottlenose Dolphin Killed in Corozal

The Ministry of Blue Economy is condemning the killing of a bottlenose dolphin sometime last week in northern Belize.  A press release from the Department of Fisheries laments the death of this species, which is protected in Belize. It says, “Bottlenose dolphins are highly intelligent and social marine mammals. We denounce the senseless killing of the animal and lament the loss of this valuable animal as its species is a contributor to Belize’s biodiversity and has high ecological importance.”  A resident found the dead dolphin floating in the Progresso-Little Belize Lagoon.  The Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development says that the scene suggests the dolphin was killed sometime around the seventeenth of this month. Today, we spoke with Leomir Santoya about what they’ve discovered about the dead dolphin.

Leomir Santoya, Natural Resource Management Programme Manager, SACD

“When we conducted the necropsy through virtual inspection we noticed that it had some wounds made by a firearm. So, we further searched the wounds so we opened the carcass and found six pellets which total to nine holes. And so we found that the pellets were way inside near the dolphin’s blow hole which is like a nose for humans. So, we believe the dolphin was choked by the impact of the bullets and that caused the immediate death of the dolphin.   I continue to talk to the person assisting us in the community and he informed me that he believes it was a fisherman from the other community which is the Progresso community. So he believes it was done by a fisherman slash hunter who used to hunt in the area.  He continued by telling me that this person didn’t care about the indefensive animal that is not causing any problem to the community but rather provides a beauty to the lagoon seeing the dolphin around. There were two dolphins in the lagoon and that one was shot.”

Andrea Polanco

“What can you tell us about the bottlenose dolphin – it is endangered? Is it protected? What do we know about this species in Belize?”

Leomir Santoya

“Yes this is a protected species and they are protected under the laws of Belize. There is a penalty if you are found guilty of killing a marine mammal and that could be a fine of up to five thousand dollars and so they are a protected species. In the Corozal Bay which connects with the Progresso-Little Belize Lagoon we have information that there is approximately fifty bottlenose dolphins that use the area.”

Santoya is appealing to the public to come forward with information that they may have about the killing of this dolphin. 

Channel 5