Baby Dolphin, It's What's for Lunch

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TV star reportedly eats a deceased baby dolphin at Aliso Beach


Survivalist Gary Golding, a veteran of the Discovery Channel’s Emmy-nominated Naked and Afraid series, has ignited a firestorm after he reportedly found a deceased baby dolphin on the sand at Aliso Beach and decided to slice, dice, and eat it, reportedly capturing it on video and then posting it on social media for the world to see.

TMZ obtained the video and broadcasted it here.

In his opening remarks, the man appearing to be Golding assimilates his mindset with seagulls. “I have a dolphin in the background and the seagulls are scavenging it. And if I was in the wild, I can relate to those seagulls, I would be doing the same thing.”

And so he did, tearing out the dolphin calf’s heart with his bare hands and cutting specific pieces to eat.

According to Laguna Beach Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond, “On Sunday the 12th of January that video aired on TMZ and was posted online, and was brought to the attention of the Marine Safety Department. The video appears to show that an individual cut a dolphin calf open on a south Laguna beach. After that, he appears to process, cook, and eat the dolphin meat at the Aliso Beach parking lot.”

Capt Bond said the actual date and time of when the actual video took place is still unknown.

“It appears it could be a possible publicity stunt because he posted it on social media for public viewing,” Capt Bond said.

“The Marine Safety Police Department, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and NOAA Fisheries are investigating the incident. If it’s determined to be a violation of federal or state regulations, the authorities will take the appropriate action,” Capt Bond said.

He added, “A portion of the City of Laguna Beach is considered a protected area. It appears that a potential violation took place in the area that covers the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was enacted on October 21, 1972. The MMPA established a national policy to prevent marine mammal species and population stocks from declining beyond the point where they ceased to be significant functioning elements of the ecosystems of which they are a part. In Laguna Beach, the MMPA was enacted on January 1, 2012, according to Capt Bond.

Justin Viezbicke, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal California Stranding Coordinator, West Coast Regional Office, said the case was turned over to the proper authorities.

“We turned over the information to the NOAA office of law enforcement. What they are doing, I do not know,” Viezbicke said.

Viezbicke advised that if someone finds a stranded marine mammal to call NOAA’s hotline.

“They should call the stranded hotline at 1-866-767-6114. Anywhere in California, you can call this hotline number and they can connect you to your local network responder and they will come out there and take a look at it,” Viezbicke said.

According to the NOAA Fisheries website, all marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Some are also protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Three federal entities share responsibility for implementing the MMPA. NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the protection of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions.

“That’s what we want if people see these marine mammals on the beach. To contact us, because they are very valuable as far as information goes,” Viezbicke said. “They’re opportunities to kind of get a glimpse into what’s going on in the ocean. We feel it’s very important and we would really appreciate notification from the public.”

Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) Public Relations Coordinator Krysta Higuchi said the center is not involved in the incident.

“Right now, unfortunately, there’s not much information to share at this point. PMMC is aware of the video, but we do not have much information about it, since the animal never came or was reported to PMMC,” Higuchi said. “The appropriate agencies, including Laguna Beach Marine Safety and Police Department, Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and OC Park Rangers, are actively investigating the case.”

Higuchi said PMMC isn’t normally involved in the legal side of these situations.

“If determined to be a violation of federal, state, or local regulations, authorities will take the appropriate actions. We are not sure if that would be jail time, fines, etc.,” Higuchi said.

From a PMMC standpoint, Higuchi said, “Laguna Beach is a marine protected area and it is illegal to take a marine mammal from the water or the beach without a permit. Since PMMC was not made aware of the animal, we could not respond to do an exam or necropsy and therefore do not know its age, gender, cause of death, etc.”

Unfortunately, the number of stranded dolphins on local beaches is on the rise.

2019 was a record year for PMMC dolphin responses.

“We responded to 17 dolphins, 16 common dolphins – all were adults or juveniles and two were calves, along with one bottlenose dolphin,” Higuchi said.

Ten were stranded within 30 days from February and March and the other seven were stranded between April and September.

“We actually responded to our first dolphin of the year, 2020, [yesterday] Thursday, Jan 16, at Main Beach. It was a female adult Pacific white-sided dolphin. Sadly, by the time PMMC arrived, the dolphin had passed on its own,” Higuchi said.

A full necropsy will be performed to hopefully determine the cause of death in the coming days. Marine Safety reported the dolphin had seized shorty before PMMC’s arrival.

In 2018, PMMC responded to 12 dolphins, including one bottlenose and one striped adult dolphin, and 10 common dolphins. Six of the 10 rescued dolphins were newborns or calves. They were stranded between January and July with one patient in December.

In 2017, PMMC responded to four dolphins, one bottlenose newborn, and one adult and two newborn common dolphins, stranded between May and August.

The pattern is alarming.

“The survival rate is a sad statistic. None of the dolphins have survived,” Higuchi said. Historically we do not see the ‘mass strandings’ on the West Coast like you do on the East Coast. It’s normally just a single dolphin.”

She said when a dolphin strands people’s first instinct is to push it back out to the ocean. But here, that can cause much more harm than good.

“When a dolphin strands on the West Coast it’s usually as a last resort because it is extremely sick or injured. Less than two percent of cetaceans or dolphins that strand survive,” Higuchi said.

PMMC has increasingly seen more stranded dolphins over the years.

“Last year, February through April was a very trying time for PMMC. Not only did we see the majority of dolphins strand during that time, but also a majority of our seal and sea lion patients stranded during that time,” Higuchi said. “Let’s just hope [Thursday’s] response doesn’t foreshadow more to come.”

Golding, who goes by “Tarzan of Los Angeles,” seems to have second thoughts about his actions. On Wednesday, Jan 15, he posted on Twitter:

“Educational opportunity: I never knew you couldn’t pick up dead animals off the beach. DO NOT EVER DO IT. I would NEVER harm a Marine Mammal and I NEVER have. I would never touch or harm a Living Dolphin in or out of a protected area and I would never condone anyone harm any Marine Animal EVER. That is absolutely not acceptable behavior.”
 
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