Beggar The Dolphin Lived Happy Carefree Life Thanks to Humans

If a Dolphin dies in the ocean is man to blame? Of course.

Famous Begging Dolphin Found Dead

A dolphin known as “Beggar” for his tendency to approach boaters for food has been found dead, possibly as a result of his poor diet.

Beggar was found floating in the water near Albee Road Bridge on the Intracoastal Waterway in Sarasota, Fla., on Friday (Sept 21). His body was partially decomposed, making it impossible to determine the exact cause of death. However, the dolphin’s digestive tract contained fishing hooks, squid beaks (not usual prey for dolphins in the area) and ulcers, suggesting that humans may have contributed to his demise.

According to the Mote Marine Laboratory, for the past 20 years, Beggar has been hanging out in the area where he was found dead. He was known to approach boats looking for food. During 100 hours of observations over several months in 2011, researchers with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program observed Beggar interacting with humans 3,600 times. People tried 169 times to feed Beggar an impressive range of 520 foods, including beer and hot dogs. On 121 occasions, boaters tried to pet the dolphin. Nine times, they were bitten for their efforts.

“We can’t say which of these many injuries was the ultimate cause of death for Beggar,” Gretchen Lovewell, the manager of Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program, said in a statement. “But all of our findings indicate that he was in poor health for a long time and that his interactions with humans played a role. Boat strike wounds, fishing hooks and line in his stomach — even the squid beaks we found — all of these things indicate that he was spending more time attempting to get food from humans than foraging on his own.”

I wondered when I read this, how long to dolphins usually live in Sarasota, Fla.  And by chance I found that exact topic was the topic of a research paper, Duffield and Wells, 1990.

A. Longevity.

Census data from the Sarasota, Florida population suggest that a bottlenose dolphin’s average life span is probably 20 years or less (Duffield and Wells, 1990). Data from other areas are not available.

What is the lifespan of a dolphin?

According to some marine biologists that have studied dolphins, the life span of a dolphin is up to 20 years old.
However, it has been proved that some dolphins have reached the age of 48.
The life span of dolphin varies from species to species, and the information provided is for bottlenose dolphins and some other similar species.


I knew there was something er.. fishy about this story. Sounds to me like the dolphin lived a long and happy life of his choosing.

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  • Does this mean that I shouldn’t give food to the guys on the corner begging for food? I don’t want to shorten THEIR lifespan

  • retired.military

    So do we give beer and free food to Obama supporters and see what happens?

    Oh wait. We already do that.

  • JWH

    In general, IMO, it’s a bad idea to feed wild animals. They lose their fear of man.

    • Conservachef

      Not only that, but they can develop a dependency on man for their food. It’s part of the reason you have bear-proof garbage bins in mountainous regions- animals come foraging for food at the dumpster where they may run into humans.

      I think it’s amazing how naive we can be sometimes. I thought everyone knew the old adage about a mother bear & her cubs. I was driving in the Smoky Mtn. Natn’l Park once and saw some bear cubs off in the woods. I also saw people out of their cars trying to creep closer for better pictures.

      • JWH


        I recall a few years ago reading about a population of wild turkeys . People had taken to hand-feeding the turkeys. Over time, the little buggers learned that human beings were providers of food. Instead of running away from humans, they would gather around for treats whenever they saw them. And when a human did not provide said treats, the birds would attack humans, typically beating at the humans with their wings.

        That kind of thing is a very unpleasant experience for an adult, particularly one who isn’t used to interacting with wild animals. It’s an absolutely terrifying experience for a six- or eight-year-old.

        “Don’t feed the animals” isn’t a liberal issue or a conservative issue. It’s about maintaining boundaries between human beings and wild animals.

        • Conservachef

          Maybe it was because I was brought up with it, but I’ve always thought “don’t feed the animals” is a common-sense issue…

          • JWH

            For me, it’s more like “leave the animals alone.” Especially when it comes to the bigger ones. My working theory is that bears, mountain lions, wolves, sharks, and alligators have large pointy teeth, and I don’t. Everything else flows from there.