CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Eddie Lynch couldn’t believe it. He’s lived off of Clearwater Beach for more than 35-years and has never had an issue in the water, until Saturday.

It was shortly before noon when he went out for a swim when he noticed a large dolphin swimming next to him and then he stopped. So did the dolphin. For a moment the two were face to face.

Eddie Lynch speaks from the balcony of his residence.

“And, uh, I said I gotta get out of here,” said Lynch. “And I started turning my body this way and he caught my hand and he had the whole hand in his mouth.”

Lynch was able to make it to shore. His hand was bloodied from the bite. A good samaritan told him to take off his shirt, and used that to stop the bleeding. Lynch’s wife is a physician and took him to the emergency room for treatment.

Lynch and his wife sent pictures of his injuries to experts at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Robin Curry is one of their managers who spends a lot of hands-on time with dolphins.

She says it’s hard to say from the pictures if the bite marks are from a dolphin.

Robin Curry feeds two of the dolphins at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

“It could be a case of mistaken identity where it was a different species, not neccessarily a dolphin,” said Curry. “Or a mistaken identity on the fact that if a dolphin was hunting or another animal was hunting like a shark they could accidentally take something that wasn’t a fish.”

Lynch says there is no doubt in his mind that the bite did in fact come from a dolphin. He’s sharing his story as a warning to others who enjoy time in the warm gulf waters.

“Dolphins are not little play things,” said Lynch. “People come up to them because they see them being fed and see them doing this…and people will go out and try to touch them and play with them. These are wild dolphins.”