Marine animals found mutilated, dead at UNC Wilmington - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Marine animals found mutilated, dead at UNC Wilmington

Campus police at UNC Wilmington say several marine animals at the school's Center for Marine Science have been mutilated and killed. (Source: WECT) Campus police at UNC Wilmington say several marine animals at the school's Center for Marine Science have been mutilated and killed. (Source: WECT)
WILMINGTON, NC (AP) -

Campus police at UNC Wilmington say several marine animals at the school's Center for Marine Science have been mutilated and killed.

An incident report released to local media outlets says that on July 15, someone at the center discovered injured and dead animals in a tank. The report said two pincushion sea urchins and a juvenile red drum fish were killed and a starfish had been "mutilated" with a cutting instrument.

UNCW spokeswoman Janine Iamunno said the animals were at the center for educational purposes and were in an area of the facility used for public tours and student education. UNCW released a statement regarding the incident: 

"As a institution well-known for its commitment to marine sciences, we are deeply troubled by the recent death of a red drum [fish], a sea star, and two sea urchins. As human beings who have devoted their careers to studying, cultivating and protecting the creatures of marine habitats, our staff is disturbed on a much more personal level.

We are examining how this could have occurred and exploring additional precautions that could prevent it from happening again. We also must recognize, however, that the incidents involving the red drum and the sea urchins may have been purely accidental, without malicious intent from anyone - unrelated to the act of vandalism that led to the sea star's death.  

We will remain dedicated to offering our students and visitors a rich educational experience during their time at our facilities, and to the safety of the creatures in our care."

The crime was labeled as vandalism in the police report because the fish were state property.

The center houses marine science labs, an aquarium and other research facilities.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. WECT contributed to this report.

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