Great White Shark Attack Fears after Dolphin Ripped in Half Washes Up on Beach

A dolphin carcass that appeared to be missing large portions of its body washed up on a British beach this week, sparking fears than an ocean predator may be lurking nearby.

Images of the remains, which were found at Harlyn Bay in Cornwall, were posted to Facebook by a local environmental group called Beach Guardian CIC on Tuesday. In the pictures, the mammal appeared to be missing chunks of its bottom half and many of its bones were visible.

Rob Stevenson, who works at Beach Guardian, did not speculate on how it died, but told Cornwall Live that residents should be careful around the remains.

He said: "One of our volunteers was dog walking on Harlyn Bay when they saw it in the water and took a photo and sent it over so I went down for a look.

"The tide has now retreated so it's sitting at the high tide mark. We want to make people aware there's a dead dolphin on the beach, particularly dog walkers as a lot of inquisitive dogs will go over for a look." He said a rope tied around the dead dolphin's tail may have been from a prior rescue attempt.

Beach Guardian, which organizes beach cleans and runs educational workshops in partnership with schools, said online the discovery was reported to the relevant authorities.

"It's been reported to Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, the Marine Strandings Network and Cornwall Council," it said. "If you see a dead stranding like this please keep your dogs away from it, don't take any body parts, and report it to the correct local authority."

However one witness who saw the carcass told British newspaper The Sun that the wounds may have been the result of a shark attack, which sparked a wave of tabloid speculation.

"My initial thought when I saw it was a shark attack," the unidentified person told the paper this week. "You can see what looks like teeth marks and I just can't think of anything else that could have done this. It is terrifying if true. The flesh wouldn't have just rotted away like that."

Most outlets cited comments made by a local fisherman last year, who told Devon Live that white sharks are already swimming of the British coastline. "Great White Sharks are there now, I'm sure of it," said the source, Ashley Lane, who reportedly runs a fishing trip company.

But Stevenson indicated that it was too early to tell how the dolphin's death occurred. He said: "It's a sad picture and terrible to see but we can't really speculate as to how it died."

The Shark Trust, a U.K. conservation group, says over 40 species of shark have been spotted off the British coast, with at least 21 species living in the waters all year round. Species include the Thresher, Nursehound, Porbeagle and Tope and Basking, Blue and Shortfin Mako.

The white shark is not one of them, at least not yet.

"There's much debate about whether White Sharks are in British waters. But, as exciting as that would be, it's very unlikely," the Shark Trust explains in a fact sheet.

"There have been no confirmed sightings or strong evidence to suggest they're here. Yet, British waters do provide good conditions for White Sharks, so it's not impossible.

"The closest confirmed report was of a female White Shark, captured in 1977 in the northern Bay of Biscay–168 miles off Land's End, Cornwall.

"In 2014, a tagged White Shark called Lydia was documented as the first of her species to cross the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Although she was still 1,000 miles from British shores."

White shark
Great White Sharks seasonally gather off the coast of Guadalupe Island on September 15, 2016, 150 miles off the coast of Mexico. Dave J Hogan/Getty