Marine wildlife rescuers say a bottlenose dolphin was found dead last week in waters off Sandy Hook.
Bob Schoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine tells NJ.com that the dolphin is believed to be a female. It was first spotted around noon last Friday in Sandy Hook Bay, about a mile from the entrance to Sandy Hook.
According to Joe Reynolds of NY Harbor Nature, a blog covering happenings in and around the New York Harbor, the dolphin washed ashore along Plum Island during the morning high tide.
There was no outward sign of what may have caused the dolphin’s death. It had a very large healed shark bite near its dorsal fin, but Schoelkopf says the wound appears to have occurred about a year or two ago.
“The bite had healed nicely over the years, but there was no mistaking the bite marks that must have caused a great deal of pain and stress for this dolphin at the time,” Reynolds wrote. “She had been thought a lot of anxiety in her life already. Maybe the shark attack caused her to become a solitary cetacean [marine mammal].”
Marine Mammal Stranding Center staffers will use that large scar to try to determine whether this dolphin is the same one spotted all summer in the Shrewsbury River.
Social animals living along “can never be a good sign,” according to Reynolds, who added that bottlenose dolphins usually swim in groups, called pods, consisting of 2 to 25 or more.
A necropsy is scheduled for today.
Anyone who has pictures of the dolphin spotted swimming in the Shrewsbury River during the summer is asked to call the Marine Mammal Stranding Center at 609-226-0538.
The center also requests reports from anyone who spots a marine mammal or sea turtle in distress or being harassed by people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.