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Famous Wild Dolphin “Beggar” Killed After Illegal Feedings and Pettings

Boaters feed Beggar the dolphin illegally in this photo taken by the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program.
Boaters feed Beggar the dolphin illegally in this photo taken by the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. Photo taken under NMFS Scientific Research Permit No. 15543.

 

(Updated 10-5-12 at 11:48 am with info on stingray barbs.)

This week, ocean advocates were stunned when a Florida woman was caught riding a manatee. Fortunately, that animal was unharmed, but another Florida marine mammal was not so lucky (it might be time to alert Drew Curtis’ Florida feed on Fark). Late last month, a wild bottlenose dolphin named Beggar was found dead in Sarasota.

Beggar, who was about 20 years old, has long been one of the most famous and most studied of wild dolphins around the world. Scientists have logged many hours observing him, and have published papers. YouTube is full of videos of Beggar made by boaters. This was made easy because, unfortunately, Beggar had developed a taste for human food, thanks to lots of folks who fed him illegally. (Bottlenose dolphins usually live between 30 and 50 years.)

It is illegal to feed or approach wild dolphins under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, and violators can get up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year in jail per violation. But enforcement is a challenge, given the huge size of coastal areas and the limited budgets of government agencies. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has prosecuted three dolphin harassment cases in Florida in recent months, but studies suggest many more go unreported.

According to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Beggar spent much of his time right off-shore, where he was frequently approached by boaters. Many petted him and tossed him food, often junk food like hot dogs or even beer.

As a result, Beggar mostly stopped foraging on his own, and he started hanging out in one small area, instead of roaming more broadly. He also essentially stopped socializing with other dolphins.

“By feeding Beggar, people changed his behavior and put him at an increased risk from boat strikes. It also appeared that other dolphins learned similar ‘begging’ behavior by watching him interact with humans,” the aquarium said in a statement.

Aquarium technicians performed a necropsy on Beggar’s body. Although they were unable to determine a definitive cause of death, they concluded that his altered behaviors were most likely to blame for his demise. They found evidence of past injuries from boat strikes, including old puncture wounds and broken ribs and vertebrae. He was dehydrated, possibly from eating an unnatural diet. He also had fishing tackle in his stomach, as well as squid beaks–but according to the scientists squid aren’t normally consumed by dolphins in that area, suggesting he was tossed some “sushi.” Beggar also had two stingray barbs embedded in his flesh, which may have contributed to his problems.

 

Picture of Beggar the dolphin
Beggar the dolphin in happier days. Photo taken by Sarasota Dolphin Research Program under NMFS Scientific Research Permit No. 15543.

 

History of Harassment

In order to better understand how people are interacting with wild dolphins, and putting them at risk, Katie McHugh of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program conducted a study on Beggar in 2011 (the program is a partnership between Mote and the Chicago Zoological Society). In 100 hours of observation, McHugh saw:

  • 3,600 interactions between Beggar and humans — up to 70 per hour;
  • 169 attempts to feed him 520 different food items — from shrimp and squid to beer, hot dogs, and fruit;
  • 121 attempts to touch him — resulting in nine bites to people.

McHugh concluded that “Beggar was not a healthy dolphin.” She also noted, perhaps unsurprisingly, that when NOAA law enforcement officers were nearby, people left Beggar alone.

Stacey Horstman, a dolphin coordinator with NOAA Fisheries, said in a statement late last month,”Beggar was a local icon and tourist attraction for over two decades, and the results of this necropsy are a reminder of how people’s actions are harmful to wild dolphins. There is a common misconception that feeding, touching, and swiming with dolphins is not harmful and that they don’t get hit by boats. We are concered about how frequently the public and anglers continue to feed wild dolphins, as Beggar is just one of many wild dolphins in the southeast U.S. that have been fed by people and learned to associate people with food.  Responsibly viewing wild dolphins is crucial to their survival and we are asking the public for help so dolphin populations stay healthy and wild for generations to come.”

 

Picture of hooks and line taken out of Beggar the dolphin
Hooks and line removed from Beggar's stomach during a necropsy. Photo: Mote Marine Laboratory

 

What You Can Do

If you feel bad for Beggar, there are some things you can do. Check out these tips on how to view wild dolphins safely, without putting them at risk. If you see someone feeding or harassing a wild marine animal (or trying to ride it), tell NOAA authorities immediately (check this page for your nearest division office).

Finally, do not feed wild dolphins. It may provide a quick thrill, but you are putting the animals at risk, and you could easily get bitten.

 

Brian Clark Howard covers the environment for National Geographic. He previously served as an editor for TheDailyGreen.com and E/The Environmental Magazine, and has written for Popular Science, TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN, and elsewhere. He is the co-author of six books, including Geothermal HVACGreen LightingBuild Your Own Small Wind Power System, and Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater.

Comments

  1. Rob
    Osprey
    September 24, 8:14 pm

    Yeah MOTT ,, has anyone every visited there place, practice what you preach,,, as you have caged all kinds of marine animals, and charge a outrageous fee to view them, and then you feed them for a show,,,

  2. MA
    Clearwater
    December 4, 2013, 10:32 pm

    Its a shame that people comment on a totally misleading article….People dont believe everything you read on the internet!!!!! Duhh He was an old Dolphin it was his time..he was always in great health…maybe when your loved one dies of old age who are you going to blame ????

  3. MA
    Clearwater
    December 4, 2013, 10:27 pm

    This article is totally misleading he was older than 20 as we have been traveling those water since the early 80’s and he was there…People got bit because they stuck their hands in his mouth he was not a trained animal.. and the headline is outrageous…An animal knows what he can and can not eat…give me a break !!!

  4. liviolivia0102
    United Kingdom
    June 27, 2013, 11:18 am

    Ugh who in their own mind would do that. Them 9 people who got bitten. It’s their own fault. Maybe Begger died anyway. There is some horrible people about.

  5. suesita
    WA
    June 19, 2013, 7:18 pm

    I sat we focus on stopping the slaughter of dolphins.

  6. Savejungle
    May 12, 2013, 3:17 am

    Wild animals should be respected and kept alone. Feeding with junk and beer surely did not benefit the dolphin itself.

    Unfortunately, most of the people behave selfishly and want the attention of a wild animal and get to it as close as possible (and eventually feed it) so that they have a cool picture for their social media site. The wider picture is that there is more beauty when the wild animal is left living its life and a human just observes it. That way, the boundaries is kept.

  7. Oldflorida
    Sarasota
    May 3, 2013, 8:27 pm

    The so-called scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory should be ashamed of themselves. Instead of presenting the facts of the matter scientifically and objectively, they used the sad event as a way pursue an agenda of prohibiting anything that might result in interactions between marine mammals and humans — whether or not there is any real, scientific, documented reason for the prohibition.

    Beggar’s age was well know and determined to be very close to the limit of bottlenose dolphin life span — based on a published paper co-authored by the head of the Mote dolphin research (Randy Wells). The most likely and reasonable cause of death for Beggar was natural old age. Human interaction had nothing to do with it, but that reality did not fit with Mote’s agenda.

    The necropsy found no evidence of human interaction being a cause or contribution to the animal’s death. A couple of fish hooks would not be fatal, and many other dolphins similarly ingest tackle when they learn to steal fish from fishermen. The most likely and reasonable cause of death for Beggar was natural old age. Human interaction had nothing to do with it, but that reality did not fit with Mote’s agenda.

    I personally had seen Beggar several times a month in the ICW returning from fishing trips. I last saw him alongside our boat two or thee weeks before his death, and he was a very healthy animal showing no signs of negative effects from his decades of his begging lifestyle.

    Further, I know first hand that people who had the opportunity to see Beggar close up and personally became much more caring about dolphins. Beggar was a goodwill ambassador for his species. Shame on Mote and anyone who would use his death as a way to promote an agenda that has no basis of science.

  8. zabrina
    nashville Tennessee
    May 2, 2013, 7:17 pm

    If it was documented that Beggar was becoming too close to humans and it was endangering his life in the wild they should have brought him in to captivity. Not excusing humans but humans allowed this to cause his death.

  9. JP
    Florida
    November 27, 2012, 1:50 am

    it is funny that there are programs whereby you can dive and feed SHARKS for an exciting Underwater experience, but not the nice little, harmless dolphins. Ever wonder why the sharks show up at dives after the Shark programs have been discontinued? Duh, we conditioned the Fish to the “FREE” meals, so they make an appearance and wonder why we are not accommodating them. Uh, I think I would rather deal with a disappointed Dolphin or Manatee, than an irritated, hungry Shark that is reacting like Pavlov’s dog to the sound of a boat in their stomping grounds. Who would figure the thought processes of these “AUTHORITIES”, that defy common sense and logic.

  10. Doug
    October 12, 2012, 11:07 pm

    Well to be perfectly honest cherry I never tried to feed Beggar beer so I don’t know for sure whether he liked it or not. But my sources tell me he didn’t.

  11. cherrylipgloss
    October 12, 2012, 12:02 pm

    I’m going by your posts doug. My question wasnt about the noise but how do you know he doesnt like beer?

  12. Doug
    FL
    October 11, 2012, 8:09 pm

    Hey cherrylipgloss & far. For the record I never fed “Beggar” anything. Much less beer. He liked metallic noises underwater. I noticed this awhile back and would occasionally try to entertain him with something new.

    Y’know those noisemakers that have a knob you hold onto and spin em around and they go clackety clack? When you held one under water & spun the knob Beggar was fascinated. He’d swim up’n cock his head to the side & check it out.

    I had about a foot long section of stainless steel anchor chain onboard one day. Held it over the side & shook it around underwater. He loved it!

    I’ve been familiar with “Beggar” since the late 80’s. How long have you known him?

  13. cherrylipgloss
    October 11, 2012, 10:27 am

    How is it that @DougCampbell is aware that this lovely creature didn’t enjoy the taste of beer? Please, tell me that it isn’t because he tried giving it to him. That is sad beyond comprehension

  14. Far
    October 10, 2012, 7:47 pm

    Doug, how do you know Beggar doesn’t like beer or that he likes ‘the sound of beer cans underwater’? Sounds to me YOU have been feeding him beer and is acting defensive cuz you can’t accept the fact that the shit you fed the poor dolphin may have caused the poor dolphin to die. Stop trolling. Your comments are repetitive and annoying. No one should feed any wild animals junk food. DUH

  15. Claire
    October 10, 2012, 5:14 pm

    why was beggar one of the favorite dolphins to study? And i don’t think that most people know of this law, so I think that this wouldn’t happen if people actually knew it was against the law to interact with wild dolphins. And when I went to Destin, FL this summer, a baby dolphin and two full grown dolphins were swimming on the side of the boat, and the baby dolphin pood right next to the boat. I also go snorkeling in Destin, and the Dolphins are curious so they come up to you. It’s not like you can help it. Please someone respond to me.

  16. lynda strasdin
    thunder bay ontario canada
    October 10, 2012, 3:16 pm

    sad to think that its so easy for everyone to blame each other perhaps beggar enjoyed the human interaction, and was making all his own choices. man may never know what was best. only beggar. I watched a documenttary on luna a killer whale, from BC. watch it. interesting perspective.

  17. john
    Florida
    October 9, 2012, 11:33 pm

    Sorry, but its not the ‘Backwater hillbillies’ that are the problem here. They have the most respect for wildlife…

  18. Doug
    October 9, 2012, 8:59 pm

    Well put Yiwen. That might just well be the most factual statement to date.

    Valid point John. From what I understand Manatee are an excellent food source. High in protein & low in fat.

    Have you ever heard of “Cowpen Slough”? It’s down in the FL keys. Got it’s name from the guys who built Henry Flaglers railroad during the late 20’s. Narrow inlet where they would corral & harvest a few of the passing Manatee. I have an old recipe. Mmm mmm good!

    Yo Peter. Dolphin die everyday. We didn’t kill them all. And fyi they don’t travel the ‘backwater’ much.

  19. Liam
    October 9, 2012, 4:07 pm

    Your response doesnt change the fact that your headline is misleading and potentially false.

  20. Anon
    October 9, 2012, 12:53 pm

    Scientists are to blame for this one. Or George Bush, depending on the ideology of the person you’re talking to.

  21. yiwen
    shanghai china
    October 9, 2012, 7:15 am

    I think those people are bad guys,I like animals very much, they can’t kill animals.Why does those man want to that??

  22. jay tee
    October 9, 2012, 4:26 am

    Its Bush’s fault!!

  23. Peter
    Brevard County, FL
    October 9, 2012, 2:22 am

    Many more dolphins will die, because these backwater hillbilly boaters have no respect for anything but themselves. Just nasty, self-centered people destroying the world and not caring one whit. Disgusting.

  24. john
    Florida
    October 8, 2012, 9:41 pm

    People amaze me…. there are so many different sides of a fence. Folks there is no one here to blame and I don’t believe Brian or the scientists are trying to blame anyone. Sometimes things just are the way they are and we should accept them for that. Begger did what he did for whatever reasons and he is now dead, sad. Should we feed wildlife? probably not. But we have cats, dogs, livestock and a slew of other pets that we feed as well. Do they eat what they are supposed to? NO…. Sometimes we create our own problems – take the manatees. They are taking over the rivers in populations so great that the rivers are choked with them. But they are protected because they are “cute” and good for tourism. The rivers float with a mixture of manatee dung, lettuce and whatever else people feed them. Are people getting cited for feeding them? No… again good for tourism… There is a fine line between conservation and destruction. For stephanie… So my question is this – why shouldn’t they end up on the dinner plate as long as “healthy” conservation practices are being met that benefit us and the animals. We do it with aligators now, indians used to eat manatees and probably dolphins – in fact isn’t that why the good lord put all creatures on the earth to begin with??? Just a thought….

  25. Doug
    October 8, 2012, 7:04 pm

    Dear Mckenzie. NO ONE was “in charge” of Beggar. He did things his way. Oh there are a lotta peole who think they’re in charge but I reckon the animals believe otherwise. They never asked you to “save” them to begin with.

    When you look at the money that’s spent on “rescuing” and “rehablitating” these animals. Then compare it with the slim chance these creatures will ever survive “reintroduction” into the wild. It’s preposterous. Sure it makes ya feel good, but there’s so much “re” going on the whole thing wreaks!

    Mote won’t tell you Beggar’s age because there’s substantial evidence he was in reality a skinny old “Moby”, who escaped from Floridaland in the 70’s.

  26. Austin Jones
    October 8, 2012, 11:44 am

    Would anybody feel bad for beggar if he wasn’t a well known dolphin? Would he be a well known dolphin if he hadn’t begged for food?

  27. krischan smith
    October 8, 2012, 10:49 am

    No one really know what happen it cant be because of the food or it could NO ONE KNOW!>!?!?!?! so deal with like come on they should have know better give a dophin a hot dog really peolpe really!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. Felicia
    October 8, 2012, 4:38 am

    I find it very alarming how many of you seem to think nothing is wrong when it comes to feeding a dolphin junk food. Junk food will cut your life in half, so why can’t it do the same to a dolphin? I bet all you inbreds also feed your children garbage also. So sad when people think its ok to feed a dolphin a hotdog, if you don’t have children already I really hope you don’t ever have any. The dolphin was not the community pet, he was a wild animal and should of been treated as such!

  29. Mckenzie
    NJ
    October 7, 2012, 10:35 pm

    I have to agree that the headline to the story was misleading and since NO ONE knew what actually happened besides what the scientists found. There is still too many gaps in the theory to provide truth to the situation.

    Dolphins naturally adapt to different situations, in this situation aka “Beggar” just adapted to the life of being around humans. In this article it seemed to not be looking at the big picture of not EVERYONE was feeding Beggar and provoking him. It was MAYBE just a few people that showed him how easy life could be and that was just enough to cause this sinario.

    However, there should have been more marine petrol boats instead of the lazy 1. As they say actions speak louder than words. Why hadn’t there have been more to prevent that portion of the public that was basically committing animal cruelty being the dolphin hadn’t known what he was eating only that it was even though not healthy but sustaining his life. And no i’m not saying that he was forced to eat the junk food only that Beggar was being treated like a dog that gobbles up everything up that’s in front of him and the owner leaves an unlimited supply of food down. Which in turn results in an obese dog that hadn’t known what was happening only that he was being fed.

    Whoever is in charge of the safety of the animals should have more people monitoring the public interaction with marine life as to not create another beggar and to learn from this

  30. Doug
    October 7, 2012, 7:48 pm

    Hear ya Matt. The headline reads like some evil humans fed him, petted him, then murdered him. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I too would like to believe the authors incompetence is accidental, but I think not. For example. He says he didn’t mention the festering Stingray barbs cuz he didn’t want to “overcomplicate” things. Hmm. What, overcomplicate things with facts? Heck it only took one Stingray barb to KILL the Crocodile Hunter?

    But no, better to post lies & innuendos against boaters & fisherman while ignoring the facts. Believe it was Aldous Huxley who said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored”.

    The headline stinks and the article is full of half truths & outright lies. Nice work Brian.

  31. Matt
    October 7, 2012, 11:51 am

    You need to fix your headline. It’s not ok to run a misleading headline and justify it with “Oh, well I explain in more detail what ACTUALLY happened.”

    There is no proof that humans caused Beggar’s death. In fact, there is very little evidence at all to suggest such. A little more responsible research would have led you to the possibility that Beggar is actually an escaped marine “performer” that was possibly 30-40 years old.

    I can tell from your picture that you’re quite young, and you have a lot to learn in your field. In the future, some due diligence would be appreciated before you publish erroneous and misleading headlines, while failing to research, in full, the topic that you are writing about. It comes across like you’re trying to push an agenda, but I see it for the incompetence that it actually is. Good luck in your future articles!

  32. Doug Campbell
    Venice Florida USA
    October 6, 2012, 6:56 pm

    Well put JT. Thank you.

    Des. Mote won’t tell you Beggars age because that doesn’t jive with their agenda. If they told you how old he really was you might conclude he simply died of old age. And that’s bad for business.

    Yes Jeff, it is shamefull for Mote to accept donations on Beggars behalf. They should consider that money tainted. But then again Mote is no longer the respected scientific research facility it was during the days of Eugenie Clark. It has devolved into just another environmentalist advocacy group.

    Malcolm, fyi. Joyce Simpson was Moby’s trainer at Floridaland. In a 2008 Sarasota Herald-Tribune article she confirmed that “Moby” did in fact escape from the park. Was Beggar “Moby”?

    I boat in the area virtually every sunday, sometimes more, and am quite familiar with Beggar. He always swam up to say Hi. As I mentioned earlier he didn’t care for beer but I do remember he was fascinated by the noise created from crinkling an empty can underwater. Seemed to really enjoy it.

    Your headline still needs some work Brian. Nobody “killed” Beggar.

  33. Matt
    October 6, 2012, 5:26 pm

    Brian, the restraint you show when dealing with such moronic individuals posting on here is admirable.

  34. Mike
    Ft Worth
    October 6, 2012, 2:29 pm

    It is absurd to think that this dolphin had constant human contact for over 20 years and that is what caused its death. If human contact is so toxic, he would not have lasted 20+ years. Sound like he had a better life than most humans on earth and all NFL replacement refs.

  35. JT
    San Diego, CA
    October 6, 2012, 10:35 am

    Mine is a slightly different take… slightly. While my time with dolphins has convinced me that they are marine people (not just a clever sub-human animal,) they remain naive in regards to human ways. We are a self-destructive species. NOBODY should be eating hot dogs. We may survive the experience,but such food takes its toll on us as well, and such foods are directly linked to heart attacks, etc. So while they are at least as smart as humans in their own way and world, they are unversed about land-based science and foodstuffs. (Why should they be? Left to their natural ways and diet, they shouldn’t have to worry about such matters.) So yes, we shouldn’t be tainting them by feeding them our deadly junk food… or getting them acclimated to our potentially lethal water toys.

    Now on to the difference: This dolphin chose to interact with us. For whatever reason, s/he decided we’re worth knowing. It would be wrong and inaccurate to think that any cetacean (which isn’t starving or sick) chooses to be around humans just for the food. Perfectly good food is theirs for the taking, and they CAN just eat the fish found in the local environment. (At least for now. Overfishing has taken some species down as much as 93% in the past 60 years; we’re fishing the oceans dry.) They don’t *need* us for anything in most circumstances, so it is not an accurate conclusion to claim that a cetacean (dolphin, including orcas, and true whales) makes contact with humans just for the food.

    Bottom line? We trash our planet, the only one we have. We trash our own bodies, ingesting all manner of unhealthy “food.” We endanger ourselves and others with our mechanical toys. But our right to do so MUST be limited to witting, willing members of our own species. We must not impose that toxicity upon the rest of the planet. It may be YOUR dream to swim with dolphins, but it’s not generally theirs. Leave them alone, admire them as they truly are, from a distance. Thank you!

    JT
    Founder, Protect The Ocean

  36. des
    palm harbor
    October 6, 2012, 7:40 am

    Why didn’t the necropsy process pull a tooth to cross section it to determine his actual age instead of all the above speculation it is easy to do and accurate I believe

  37. Doug Campbell
    Venice Florida USA
    October 5, 2012, 10:53 pm

    NOBODY KILLED BEGGAR!!! For cripes sake already, give it a rest Brian! He was NOT 20yrs old. More like twice that. It’s entirely possible that he was in fact the escaped “Moby” from Floridaland. (Have several pictures if you’re interested.)

    Yknow he may well have set up shop where he was because he learned quickly the fishing just north of the bridge is usually purty good. Have seen him gorge himself on schools of snook & other species as they migrated past..

    Hot dogs contributed very little overall to his diet. And fyi he didn’t like beer. Was pretty much a teetotaler.

    Might I remind you that no definative cause of Beggars has been determined. Why do you keep insisting humans “killed” him?

    Hey! One of my posts is missing?!

  38. Tony Deconinck
    October 5, 2012, 10:40 pm

    Hi Brian, thanks for the shout-out. Fark actually did link to this one, with the Hitchhiker’s Guide reference, “So long, and thanks for all the fish”

  39. Rob
    United States
    October 5, 2012, 1:35 pm

    Can you please update the link to the article on “How to view wild dolphins safely”?

    Thanks…

  40. Brian Clark Howard
    October 5, 2012, 12:09 pm

    @Doug Campbell
    I added a reference to the stingray barbs. I hadn’t included that before to try to not over complicate things, it wasn’t intentional to try to promote one point of view, but I can see where it might have seemed that way. So I added it in.

  41. Tara Smith
    Sarasota FL
    October 5, 2012, 1:47 am

    As a volunteer at Mote Marine I’ve been able to be a part of the rehabilitation of these animals and I’ve learned the importance of non human contact. Even when caring for the sick animals we’re taught that the less contact we have with the animal the better chance of survival after release. We try not to let them hear us or see us, especially at feeding time. These animal cannot come to depend on humans or they won’t survive.

  42. Lori Sirianni
    United States
    October 5, 2012, 12:38 am

    Thank you, Brian Clark Howard, for this story; good work. This is sad, I lived in Sarasota for almost 4 years, love the area, but there are so many people who are unaware of both the dangers in feeding wildlife, and unaware of the laws protecting dolphins, manatees, and other marine mammals. I do believe a public awareness campaign in the State of Florida and throughout the U.S. is needed, to make people aware of the MMPA and its protections for marine mammals. We obviously cannot count on people having enough common sense not to feed hot dogs and beer to a dolphin. And much more money and resources ought to be dedicated to law enforcement, including fining boaters who violate the MMPA and speed limits.

  43. Jeff
    Nokomis, FL
    October 4, 2012, 10:56 pm

    This is a great example of how people who mean well but just don’t have the facts can cause a lot of trouble. I live about 10 minutes by water from where Mooch lived. (I don’t know where this “Beggar” thing came from. He has been known as Mooch all along, and in fact a local waterfront restaurant has a section called “Mooch’s Munchies” on it.) I remember him from as far back as the mid 1980s. He was NOT just 20 years old. And think about it. If the Mote Marine folks saw that many violations, why did they not call the sheriff or the marine patrol and have violators arrested? The Venice police have one boat patrolling the area, and the Sarasota Sheriff’s department has two. Plus, the fish and game people show up now and then. No one has been arrested, because everyone except an occasional tourist stopped feeding him years ago. Mote is even capitalizing on this by holding a raffle to raise money. It’s shameful.

  44. Kathy Crose
    Syracuse, NY
    October 4, 2012, 10:54 pm

    I feel bad that this happened but you have to blame the fact that dolphins have been so socialized in places like Sea World and this is where people have learned that dolphins are friendly social mammals. However, why is it that no one is concerned about the demise of the wolves or the fact that no one spays/neuters cats/dogs to keep feral cats at a minimum. Maybe that should be explored.

  45. Kelley Ayers
    United States
    October 4, 2012, 10:03 pm

    Beggar will be missed! Beggar was not in a rehab…he came from an old forgotten attraction called Floridaland. Floridaland closed in 1971 or 72 right after Disney World. The first time I am positive I met Beggar was in 1983 …. at the Albee Bridge where he died….Yes he was unhealthy but he did live a long life….again he was released from Floridaland in 1972! I had my 6th Birthday party at Floridaland and because it was my birthday I got to ride in the boat being pulled around the lagoon by a dolphin…maybe it was Beggar…that was 1967! I was always enamored by Beggar and have lots of photos, memories and videos going back to 1983. I feel so bad that he died alone after all the joy he gave to so many over the decades. He definitely chose to hang out with humans!

  46. Doug Campbell
    October 4, 2012, 9:55 pm

    Yes … I can imagine it might be tricky to condense facts into a headline. Particularly when said headline is full of lies. Don’t leave much room does it?

    • Brian Clark Howard
      October 5, 2012, 11:56 am

      Hi. I was just reporting what the scientists who examined the body said they believe. They believe he was killed as a result of human activity.

  47. Malcolm J. Brenner
    Punta Gorda, Florida
    October 4, 2012, 9:38 pm

    @Christina Sadler: There was no “rehab facility.” Nor was Beggar, as some have suggested, once owned by an amusement park called Floridaland, he was far too young for that. I know this for a fact because I was at Floridaland when it closed and all the dolphins there were sold to other facilities. Beggar was corrupted by humans who insisted on treating him like Flipper instead of letting him be a wild dolphin.

  48. Josh
    Nokomis
    October 4, 2012, 9:12 pm

    1.Beggar was in Nokomis not Sarasota. 2. He was not offshore he was in the intercoastal waterway always. Not “offshore.” 3. He died in Nokomis not Sarasota. 4. We do not know how old Beggar was. He was studied for the past 20 years. 5. There is no tourism in Nokomis. He was far from a tourist attraction. He was simply a local friend to all boaters. Yes the occasional northern idiot would do something stupid. The majority of people tapped the side of their boat to just say hello. There were a lot more people who respected Beggar and learned an appreciation for wildlife because of him. Not wanting to dirty the water, clean up fishing line in the area because Beggar was there. He will be missed. Come on down if you want the real story.

  49. Doug Campbell
    October 4, 2012, 9:04 pm

    Yo Christina it gets even better’n that. Persistent rumor ’round these parts is that Beggar was actually ‘Moby’ from “Floridaland”. The now defunct theme park that used to be up the road in Osprey. When the park went belly up in the early 70’s two Dolphin: Brandy and Lucky were shipped off to an ‘attraction’ in NJ. Moby escaped, That’s a FACT! And the disposition of the remaining 9 is unknown.

    Yo Brian, “We can’t know for sure why he did what he did, but approaching wild dolphins(sic) is illegal for a reason.”

    That’s brilliant man, pure unadulterated textbook liberal gibberish. Outstanding!

  50. Zephyr Davis
    Oviedo, FL
    October 4, 2012, 8:49 pm

    Beggar was an awesome wild dolphin that did bring joy to may people. My family and I would always make sure to slow down in his area to catch his wonderful smiles. If you ever met him you know exactly what I mean by smiles. We never touched him nor fed him and he would still swim up to our boat to visit. You can observe and interact with wildlife without having to touch or feed it. I strongly agree with this article and Mote Marines findings. I personally witnessed boaters feeding him chips and was horrified.

    Respect wildlife for what it is. Great job Mr. Howard

  51. Doug Campbell
    Venice Florida USA
    October 4, 2012, 7:50 pm

    Dear Brian. Your article fails to mention the Stingray barb that had migrated through Beggars rib cage and was festering near his small intestine. Or the other one embedded dangerously close to his lungs? Of course you didn’t mention it because those facts are contrary to your agenda. Beggar was considerably older than what’s been reported. He was closer to 40 so there’s a strong possibility that he simply died of old age. While were on that subject the Sarasota Wild Dolphin Project themselves estimate the Dolphin in the area live to be an average age of 20. Ballsy statement that humans killed Beggar. Much as they wanted to that’s something even Mote Marine and/or the wild Dolphin project managed to refrain from saying. And then you come along. I’d love to hear all about your research?

  52. andrea
    Venice, Florida
    October 4, 2012, 6:56 pm

    I witnessed many people feeding Beggar – fishermen, tourists, and even the cops at least once. There are signs posted all over saying that it is a felony to feed wild dolphins.

    Was Beggar happy? I suppose so – he got lots of attention and always had enough to eat. But he also grew up as the sole member of his species in a big fishbowl. He had no family and no friends, just the humans who fed him.

    Who are we to judge the lifestyle or be able to evaluate the quality of life for any creature – human or otherwise? But since Beggar was hanging out with us instead of eligible bachelorettes, he was not fathering any offspring.

    So, can we really justify our actions, assuage our guilt, simply by pointing out that he seemed happy? To compound the disservice visited upon by humans – essentially for their own entertainment – the article mentioned that other dolphins have been learning Beggar’s behavior.

    The story is not over. These “students” of Beggar may start patrolling his “beat”. It remains to be seen whether our boaters will create a new Beggar, or perhaps a lesson has been learned and we will all behave differently.

  53. Stephanie Wood
    New Orleans LA
    October 4, 2012, 5:53 pm

    People need to understand that animals are not here just to entertain us and end up on our dinner plate! Oneness!! The way we treat animals is horrendous!!!

  54. christina sadler
    North Port FL
    October 4, 2012, 5:36 pm

    what I feel bad for is your lacking ability to investigate and use your own mind while writing a story..NO ONE KILLED BEGGAR but hey that doesnt get readers does it..so its better to be a sloppy journalist than a correct one..while i understand the need to teach people not to feed wildlife i dont appreciate how you people try to make the community feel guilty..Its my understanding Beggar was once in a rehab center that failed in the area…when they shut down the put him out into the wild…HE chose to stay in the area and was use to and enjoyed the contact with humans,…He made so many people happy over the 20 years he lived free…and I think its safe to say he died from old age…He lived life on his own term and chose not to follow the pod..I applaud him for that and hope that in my lifetime I can touch as many hearts as he did..

    • Brian Clark Howard
      October 4, 2012, 6:14 pm

      Hi. Thanks for reading. It is always tricky to condense a lot of facts into a short headline, but I did not mean it to suggest that we know for sure that someone directly killed Beggar. If you read the whole story you’ll see that I discuss that the necropsy could not pinpoint a specific cause of death, but that the scientists who examined him believe his death was likely related to the contact with people, which caused him to engage in risky behaviors like hanging out near boats. We don’t know for sure that one person killed Beggar, but scientists think he was killed as a result of his altered behavior.

      As I mention in the article, there are responsible ways to view wild dolphins without putting them at risk, and they can still touch our hearts, while remaining alive. 20 years old is not old for his species, which can routinely live to be 50 (also mentioned in the story).

      We can’t know for sure why he did what he did, but approaching wild dolphins is illegal for a reason.