She had chunks of flesh missing from her body. Pieces of her right flipper were completely torn away. The 265 pound Atlantic bottlenose dolphin had been attacked by a shark - and it wasn't looking good.
Sharks and dolphins often leave each other alone, but attacks do happen. Sometimes the dolphins actually come out on top, usually with the backup of their podmates, according to the Reef Quest Centre for Shark Research. But more often than not, the dolphin winds up on the losing side.
Not this time.
When she was spotted off the coast of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., teams from the Georgia Aquarium's Conservation Field Station and SeaWorld Orlando's Rescue Team were called to the scene by state officials to rescue the ailing dolphin, whose injuries were life threatening, the organizations said in a news release.
"When she hit the beach she was initially assessed by the Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station. Their veterinarian found that this dolphin was very thin and also had multiple shark bite wounds all over her body," said Lara Croft, of SeaWorld.
The dolphin was treated at the scene and quickly transported to SeaWorld's rescue facility in Orlando, where she was able to swim without help in a rescue tank.
Veterinarians gave her antibiotics and hooked her up to a fluid drip to rehydrate her, and gave her some medicine to protect her muscles after the stress of grounding on the beach.
Croft said it is not unusual to see shark bite wounds on dolphins, but it was unusual for this particular dolphin to get away and strand herself alive.
"She's a fighter," Croft said. "She stranded where she was able to be assessed and receive treatment, and a second chance."
The dolphin will continue to receive "round the clock" care and rehabilitation as her condition changes, the organizations said. After that, the rescuers hope she can be returned to her natural habitat.