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June 16, 2015

Photo taken of half-eaten dolphin on North Wildwood beach

Jersey Shore Dolphins
Dolphin Eaten Karrisa Kerns/Facebook

Picture of a dolphin with bite marks discovered along the Jersey Shore.

A photo of a half-eaten dolphin washed up on the Jersey Shore has been floating around social media, sparking fears of beach-goers in the wake of recent shark attacks along the East Coast.

The photo was taken by Northeast Philadelphia resident Karissa Kerns, and posted to her friend Gene Alesi's Facebook page on Monday evening. The post reads

My friend Karissa Kerns snapped this pic Saturday in Wildwood right after it washed up on the beach early afternoon. It's very obvious what happened to it, 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.... 

The photo has been shared more than 23,000 times on Facebook and has been circulating on Twitter. 

A member of the North Wildwood Beach Patrol told NBC Philadelphia that while they couldn't determine how the dolphin died, they believe something big bit into it. Kerns, 44, described what she saw before snapping the picture to NBC:

"You could see the teeth marks and everything. It's spine was completely severed. It wasn't a full-sized dolphin and it wasn't a baby dolphin, it was mid-sized. At that point my mom took my son away quick because he was freaked out about it."

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center, a nonprofit organization in Brigantine, New Jersey that focuses on the "rescue and rehabilitation of stranded or otherwise stressed marine mammals," provided some insight on the photo on Facebook: 

...the photo that has been going around social media is of a newborn bottlenose dolphin (3 ft long). The animal likely died and then was eaten. Reports that it was an adult dolphin are wrong. Dead floating animals are very likely to have shark bites. Live healthy animals usually stay well away from sharks.

Two teenagers were badly injured on Sunday after being attacked by a shark in the span of two hours along beaches in North Carolina.