Live Dolphin Covered in Shark Bites Washes Up on Texas Beach

A dolphin covered in shark bites was found still alive washed up on a Texas beach on Wednesday.

Beachgoers spotted the stranded dolphin near High Island, which is located on the state's southeast coast, the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TMMSN) said in a Facebook post.

The beachgoers reported the bottlenose dolphin sighting to the TMMSN, which gave them instructions on how to provide supportive care until a team from the non-profit arrived.

TMMSN—which is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating marine mammals stranded along the Texas Coast—said the beachgoers did "an incredible job" reporting the dolphin and taking care of the animal before a TMMSN team reached the scene.

After assessing the dolphin, the team concluded that the animal wasn't in good condition and had suffered extensive injuries as a result of the shark attacks.

"The adult male dolphin was advanced in age, and presented with extensive respiratory disease and chronic illness, in addition to sustaining significant injury from shark bites," TMMSN said in the Facebook post.

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The team transported the dolphin to the TMMSN rehabilitation center, but there a veterinarian decided that the best course of action was to euthanize the animal due to its condition.

"Our veterinarian examined the dolphin once we arrived at our rehabilitation center and determined it was in the best interest of the dolphin to humanely euthanize it," TMMSN said. "Our team supported the dolphin as he expired peacefully."

"No matter how long we have been doing this, these losses are always hard for our team but the silver lining was the caring beachgoers and fishers that went above and beyond to take the right steps and make the dolphin as comfortable as possible until rescuers could arrive," the post said.

According to TMMSN, dolphins and whales don't usually wash up on Texas beaches unless they are sick, injured or orphaned, so if you see one, it's important not to push the animal back into the water.

If you spot a live stranded marine mammal along the Texas Coast, the non-profit says you should immediately call the TMMSN team at 1-800-9MAMMAL (1-800-962-6625) while providing your exact location. TMMSN is on-call 24 hours a day for rescue operations.

The non-profit also provides the following recommendations for what you can do to provide supportive care to a stranded marine animal while you wait for a TMMSN team to arrive:

  • "Keep the animal upright to prevent water from getting into the blowhole; be careful around the powerful mouth and tail."
  • "Keep the animal wet by pouring water on the skin; avoid getting water in the blowhole."
  • "Keep the animal cool by applying wet towels (keep them wet at all times) and take care not to cover the blowhole or dorsal fin."
  • "Shade the animal; if no shade is available, apply oil-free sunscreen."
  • "Reduce stress on the animal by keeping people and pets away, reduce voices and noise."

Bottlenose dolphins are found throughout the world in offshore and coastal waters. The highly intelligent species, which can grow to between six and 13 feet in length, is not considered endangered or threatened in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

However, the species faces several threats that are the result of human activities, including pollution, vessel strokes and underwater noise.

A dolphin swimming
A file photo of a dolphin swimming in the ocean. A live dolphin covered in shark bites was found washed up on a Texas beach on Wednesday. iStock