Update: Elizabeth Barbeiri said her family saw it about a mile east of Gurney’s Inn in Montauk, July 14. And Ryan Kelso, via iPhone, said he spotted it — alive! — in the Montauk dunes. “It looked about the size of an average fox, gray in color, eyes like a mole, hairless and was breathing quite heavily,” he wrote – newsday
Below is not a turtle without a shell, it is a soft shelled turtle. They don’t look alike and according to one person a turtle’s shell is attached to its backbone so you can’t remove the shell without opening all its guts.
If it is a decaying dog, why does it seem to have a beak like a bird? Here’s another photo:
Following this lead we looked into “eerie” Plum Island and contacted Dr. Larry Barrett, Center Director of Plum Island Animal Disease Center, who was kind enough to supply his take:
“It is impossible to accurately identify the species of animal from the photo. There is no scale from which to judge its size. Additionally, when a body has had prolonged exposure to water and predators, it can be altered or appear different from its normal form. If we had the actual body, we could tell you what it is; however, from viewing a canine tooth in the picture, we could guess it may be a cat or a raccoon. I can state categorically that it is not associated with the work performed at Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC). PIADC serves as the nation’s first line of defense against foreign animal diseases of livestock by identifying such diseases through diagnostic testing and by developing vaccines to protect livestock from those diseases.”
The mystery thickens … or does it? Steven T. Papa, a Senior Endangered Species/Federal Projects Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has told Plum:
“Based on these higher resolution photos, it appears to be a raccoon based on estimating overall ear length to body length ratio in the photos to measurements found in the literature, as well as lower jaw and front leg characteristics.
This is the best I could do without seeing the ‘animal.’” – hamptons
Update 10.21.2010: Emma posted this a while ago, but I just took a close look. I looked at a lot of racoon skulls and I’d buy it being a raccoon if the poor animal lost part of it’s front jaw and large front teeth, resulting in the “beak” appearance.