Baby dolphin found on North Wildwood beach was likely dead before bitten, expert says

     (Photo: Karissa Kerns via Gene Alesi/Facebook)

    (Photo: Karissa Kerns via Gene Alesi/Facebook)

    A photo of a dead dolphin on a North Wildwood beach with a large chunk missing has sparked a flurry of comments, questions, and anxiety on social media. 

    But a marine mammal expert says it’s not uncommon.

    “Dead floating animals are very likely to have shark bites,” Bob Schoelkopf, the director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, wrote on the center’s Facebook page. “Live healthy animals usually stay well away from sharks.”

    Karissa Kerns says she snapped the photo around 9:45 a.m. Saturday on the 4th Street Beach in North Wildwood. Gene Alesi posted the image on Facebook on Monday, and it has since gone viral. 

    Schoelkopf said the photo depicts a 3-foot long newborn bottlenose dolphin, adding that there are sharks off the coast. 

    “They’re always out there. It’s nothing different from the past few thousand years,” he told Shore News Today, adding that a percentage of bottlenose dolphins, like any animal, don’t survive. 

    The marine expert told NBC10 that she dolphin was likely bitten by a sand tiger shark, which is docile and has no confirmed human fatalities. 

    A North Wildwood Beach Patrol member told Shore News Today that a lifeguard removed the carcass from the beach. 

    In New Jersey, there have only been 15 recorded shark attacks on humans, according to a report by The Star-Ledger. An expert told NJ.com that humans have a better chance of getting struck by a meteor.

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