People are vowing not to set foot in the Atlantic Ocean this summer after a mauled baby dolphin washed up on a New Jersey beach — and experts can’t seem to agree on what kind of shark attacked the animal.
The picture was taken this past weekend in Wildwood, New Jersey, and Facebook user Gene Alesi uploaded it to Facebook.
After only three days, it has more than 42,000 shares.
Alesi’s friend, Karissa Kerns, is the one who snapped the photo, he wrote in the caption.
“It’s very obvious what happened to it,” Alesi wrote, then added ominously, “and you won’t hear about it in the news. Be careful in the water down the shore, friends. There seems to be an awful lot of shark attacks up and down the East Coast this year…..”
Facebook users are freaking out. Here’s a comment from the alleged photographer:
Other users are concerned, too:
Experts can’t seem to agree on what kind of shark might have been responsible for the bite.
Tom Davis of Ocean City Patch, who’s also quoted above in a Facebook screengrab, got some insight from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. They said the dolphin was a newborn and only three feet long. It’s likely that it died before being eaten, according to Davis’s coverage.
An official from the Center said the attack likely came from a sand tiger shark. Sand tiger sharks have never been known to attack humans, Davis reported.
But Dr. Rich Fernicola MD, another shark expert, told the South Jersey radio station SOJO 104.9 that a Great White might indeed be the culprit.
“The marks on the bottlenose dolphin are definitely from a large shark,” he told 104.9. “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.”
Breed disputes notwithstanding, the alarm probably isn’t called for. The photo is gruesome and shocking, but it’s not exactly news that sharks — even Great Whites — swim off the shore of the northeastern U.S. coast every summer. In fact, some can even be tracked thanks to tagging by research teams.
And despite the sustained presence of Great Whites in the Atlantic, the odds that a shark would target humans off the New Jersey coast are relatively slim. There have only been 15 shark attacks in New Jersey in the last 100 years, according to NJ.com and the Star-Ledger.
“It’s pretty common,” researcher Erich Ritter told NJ.com of Great White sightings in New Jersey, “we just never really paid attention. White sharks are all over the place.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.