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'Beggar' the dolphin found dead

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Posted: Sunday, September 23, 2012 10:58 am | Updated: 1:13 pm, Wed Jul 31, 2013.

NOKOMIS - Gazing out from his dock, Karie Daniel spots a lot of wildlife. But the one animal the Intracoastal Waterway is known for, Daniel won't ever see again.

"It's just sadness, it was just strictly sadness," said Daniel, "I mean that dolphin has been such an integral part of this waterway and this community for so long."

That dolphin was Beggar. Nobody knows exactly how old he was but he's called this area home for the past twenty years.

"We see that dolphin every day right here from our dock," said Daniel.

But now, Beggar is dead. News of his passing spread quickly in a community where everyone seems to know his name.

"He was one of the ones that you saw the most around here," said Nokomis resident Mark Hughes.

Sadly though, experts say it was all that attention that probably did the most harm.

"A lot of what contributed to his death was his interactions with humans," said Mote Marine Laboratory's Gretchen Lovewell, who examined Beggar's body after he died.

What she and her team found, while disturbing, may not be all that surprising.

"He had three fishing hooks in his stomach, and a lot of ulcers as well, which are usually associated with parasites but there were no parasites so I think that may have had something to do with him eating inappropriate food," said Lovewell.

Researchers from all over the world had studied Beggar because of his unnatural feeding behavior.

Experts say he wasn't social or particularly healthy; his natural instincts diminished all thanks to those near-constant handouts from boaters.

"One of my biggest fears is because people are so used to doing that in this area, that we'll end up with another story like this," said Lovewell.

A story that Daniel doesn't want to hear again. He says at this point, one dead dolphin is just one too many.

"It is a reminder that we have to take care of what we have," said Daniel,"I feel like we lost a friend."

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