Dolphin With 'Massive Shark Bite' on Back Found Dead on Beach

A dolphin has been found with a "massive" shark bite, with the wound measuring about 2 feet across. The dead Risso's dolphin was found by Michael Sutton, who shared images of the carcass on Facebook.

Sutton, a photographer, was walking along Cronulla Beach, in New South Wales, Australia, at around 7:00 a.m. local time on Sunday after a local surfer had called him to tell him about the carcass.

"I went for a walk and found what I thought was a whale but it was actually a dolphin with a massive shark bite out of its side," he told 9News. "I've missed a handful of sunrises over the past 15 years, this is my most unusual find, I'm there every day taking photos."

He said the chunk missing from the dolphin's back measured about 60cm (1.9ft). The carcass appeared to have been washed up on the beach for several hours. More graphic images of the dolphin can be viewed on Sutton's Facebook page here.

"This is the first time I've ever found a dolphin on the beaches of Cronulla," he told Newsweek. "Initially I thought it was a pilot whale measuring over two metres (6.5 feet) in length, on a closer look I noticed it had teeth which led me to believe this may have been a dolphin ... The carcass didn't smell when I found it shortly after sunrise while walking on the beach which led me to believe it had only just washed up onto the beach."

Sutton said there were very few surfers out that morning, with one person telling him they had not gone into the water because of the dolphin.

The dolphin carcass was removed by Sutherland Shire Council after being alerted to the dolphin carcass. "Sutherland Shire Council thanks those members of the public who alerted our staff to the issue, ensuring that Council could swiftly engage relevant authorities and ensure the carcass could be promptly removed from the site," a spokesperson told 9News.

Another dolphin has also died as a result of a shark bite on Melbourne Beach, Florida. Rescuers with the Hubbs Florida Marine Mammal Stranding Team said Monday that the young female had "numerous shark bites" on her. "Unfortunately, due to her condition, she did not make it," the team said in an Instagram post. "Strandings are not always easy, but we appreciate the immense support from each of you, which allows us to continue our critical work."

Dolphins are prey for many shark species, including great white, tiger and bull sharks. According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, larger sharks will target vulnerable dolphins, including young calves and sick adults. Dolphin populations particularly at risk from shark attacks are those in Sarasota, Florida, and off the coast of Australia.

In July 2020, a predation event was filmed off the coast of New Jersey, close to the shore. Footage shows the water turn red as sharks devour the dolphin as beachgoers watch in horror. Robert Schoelkopf, executive director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, told that events like these are common, but are rarely filmed.

"That's what sharks are out there for, to clean the ocean," he told NJ Advance Media. He said anyone who sees a dolphin in trouble should never try to go to its aid: "If you're standing next to a dolphin while this is going on, you're going to be in danger. It's just food to a shark. The sharks are not going to know the difference (between a dolphin and human), especially when there's that much blood."

This article has been updated to include quotes from Michael Sutton.

shark fin
Stock photo of a shark fin above the surface of the ocean. Two dolphins have died after being bitten by sharks. Getty Images