The body of a half-eaten baby dolphin was found along a beach in North Wildwood, New Jersey this past weekend.
Now experts are divided over what species of shark was responsible for the animal’s wounds.
The dolphin was discovered by a fisherman on Saturday morning, according to NJ.com, and was brought ashore at the 4th street beach. A Philadelphia woman, Karissa Kerns, was at the beach with her mother and four-year-old son when the dolphin was recovered and moved by lifeguards, and managed to photograph it.
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Initial reports that the dolphin was an adult were incorrect, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, which noted that the animal was a three-foot-long, newborn bottlenose dolphin. The center also asserted that the wounds were likely inflicted postmortem, and not the cause of the dolphin’s death.
“Reports that it was an adult dolphin are wrong,” they noted. “Dead floating animals are very likely to have shark bites. Live healthy animals usually stay well away from sharks.”
Bob Schoelkopf, who is associated with the center, asserted that the dolphin’s wounds were likely attributable to a sand tiger shark, a slow moving variety that is not known for attacking humans. His assessment, however, is at odds with that of Dr. Rich Fernicola, M.D., an expert and published author on the topic of sharks. Speaking with SOJO 104.9, Fernicola asserted that the dolphin was actually wounded by a great white shark.
“The marks on the adult bottlenose dolphin are definitely from a large shark. The lunate appearance of the cut out remaining flesh confirms this. It was likely a white shark, as a guess, since the edges are so clearly cut away which is consistent with the serrated teeth of the white variety.”
It is clearly worth pointing out that at the time the assessment was made, the injures were believed to have been inflicted on an adult dolphin, as reflected in Dr. Fernicola’s quote. Great white sharks have been known to frequent the waters off New Jersey, however, most famously earlier this year when a shark named Mary Lee paid the region a visit. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, a number of great white sharks have been known to congregate off Cape Cod as well, where they are studied by researchers.
Whatever species is responsible for the wounds, the center noted that the dolphin would be taken for a necropsy, in order to determine the cause of death and what kind of shark, great white or sand tiger, could be behind the bite marks.
[Image: Karrisa Kerns via Ocean City Patch]