Capt. Kenny Hyatt was fishing Friday morning when he came across a dead dolphin tied up in a net, seemingly deliberately, to the north fishing pier of the Sunshine Skyway.
"If you're a fishing guy, you see all kinds of crazy stuff out there," Hyatt said. "That was pretty crazy."
Hyatt, 30, a local tarpon fisher, was taken aback by the work someone had apparently put into abandoning the dolphin.
"It was weird that he was all tied up like that," he said. "Somebody almost had to put the lanyard on the tail. It isn't right."
To help solve the mystery, Hyatt called the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after he found the floating mammal about 7 a.m. Friday.
The commission took the dead dolphin to its St. Petersburg lab.
So far, staffers have been unable to determine how it ended up in such a bizarre position, said Tom Pitchford, a wildlife biologist there.
Pitchford said the animal had been dead for about a day, but that it isn't clear whether it died in the water or was dead before being tied up. Staffers will perform a necropsy Monday.
"Somebody went to a good deal of effort to secure it, but as far as we can tell, it was not reported to any authorities," he said. "The whole situation is so strange. We'd love to fill in some gaps."
Pitchford encouraged anyone who knows about the dolphin's death to call the state's Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab at (727) 893-2904.