Fishermen find dolphin missing chunk of body

Photo courtesy Bill Pappas, Jr.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Fishermen came across a dead dolphin off the coast of Virginia Beach and are convinced it was attacked by a shark. 10 On Your Side learned their story actually has some teeth to it.

When William Pappas and his friends left Rudee Inlet last Friday, he said the day couldn’t have been more perfect. They Cruised the Atlantic about 40 miles offshore alongside a pod of dolphins. Then they spotted something quite disturbing — a decimated dolphin.

“A picture does it no justice. I mean, if you would have put my head in the bite, it would have given it a little more scale,” Pappas said. “It had one huge chunk taken out of it, and instantly I knew it was a shark.”

Not just any shark, Pappas insists, but a Great White, the ferocious man-eater that had people running from beaches after the movie Jaws. Great White are rare on the Atlantic Coast, but could Pappas’ hunch be correct?

10 On Your Side consulted shark expert John Musick, a Professor Emeritus at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He told us, “From the tooth marks and the size of the bite, it was a Great White. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

After seeing the pictures, John Musick checked satellite pictures of the sea temperatures that day. Low and behold, he found a gulf stream eddy had warmed the water just enough for the dolphins and sharks. also asked Musick what this means for the summer at the Oceanfront. He said there may be more sharks nearby since they are seeing more seals nearby, which are a sharks dinner of choice. As far as shark attacks though, he says absolutely not.

“You still have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being attacked by a shark,” Musick said.

Still, Pappas said the fishermen were a bit worried in their 20-foot boat: “I don’t usually get scared out there, but I tell you what, when he had his hands on that sucker I kept circling ’cause, you know, one of us goes in, it’s going to be a bad day, lunch for him.”

Lucky for them, they saw just the one shark bite and lived to tell a tale.


A website that tracks sharks globally,, pinged a female Mako shark named April off the Outer Banks coast Thursday night, and shows she’s been sticking close to the OBX and Hampton Roads recently. However, the website does not track all sharks — only sharks that have been tagged with tracking devices.

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