500 placards warn of dolphin endangerment across Indian River Lagoon

From her fishing spot at Kelly Park, Katie Orcutt has seen dolphins tangled up in fishing line.

“It's absolutely devastating that people’s negligence leads to the harming of something so amazing as a dolphin,” said the Merritt Island resident.

NOAA Fisheries says dolphins are very susceptible to injury or death from fishing line and marine rope. The most recent example was a young dolphin that had a crab pot line permanently snagged in its mouth. It was rescued the line removed, but others have not been so fortunate.

According to Hubbs Sea World Research Institute, there have been seven cases of injured dolphins and 6 have been killed by fishing gear or other type of human impact.

So NOAA Fisheries and Hubbs Sea World Research Institute are trying an eye catching idea. With funding from a federal grant, they are installing 500 placards warning people not to feed wild dolphins, and recycle fishing line. And they are putting them down low on sea walls, docks, and boat ramps where people would be looking at the dolphins.

"We are hoping they are going to look down and see that message that says hey don’t feed that dolphin," said Cheryl Munday, Marine Mammal Outreach Specialist with NOAA Fisheries. "There's also a message that reminds the fisherman to recycle the fishing gear.”

Orcutt says she recycles her used fishing gear, and she would like to see more of the new placards to remind others to do the same.

“I honestly don't think you can put up enough signs about any of the wildlife," said Orcutt.