By Cleve Bryan
NORTH WILDWOOD, NJ (CBS) — It isn’t the ocean temperature giving some people goosebumps at the beach, it’s a picture circulating on social media of a baby dolphin missing half of its body from what appear to be shark bites in North Wildwood.
Sylvia Lebron says, “I’ve been coming up here for about 30 years and it kind of freaks me out to hear that something like that was found.”
Officials in North Wildwood say a swimmer told a lifeguard Saturday morning about a carcass in the water near 4th Street. The guard fished it out and soon threw it in the trash, but not before Karissa Kerns, from Philadelphia, snapped a photo.
She says, “I was like ‘whoa.’ It literally looked like one shark came up and chomped through the entire dolphin.”
After two people lost limbs in shark attacks last Sunday in North Carolina, the stealth ocean predators are on many people’s minds, but shore officials say shark attacks are extremely rare in New Jersey.
Mayor of North Wildwood, Patrick Rosenello says, “It’s sort of the circle of life in the ocean, there certainly are sharks here, there are dolphins here, there’s an abundance of sea life here – so it’s really not a major concern.”
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center investigates when dolphins wash ashore dead or alive. Without getting a chance to examine this one, Director Bob Schoelkopf says most likely a shark or sharks ate the baby dolphin after it was already dead.
He guesses the culprit is a nurse tiger shark. Despite rows of sharp teeth, they are not considered aggressive toward people, unless you get between a shark and a meal, which is what a lifeguard did last week with that carcass.
Schoelkopf says, “Get everybody out of the water and don’t walk out in knee deep water to look at a dolphin that is wounded or is thrashing around in the surf, cause it could be thrashing around in the surf because it’s being eaten by a shark.”