Photos and videos showing a dolphin being passed around by a mob of beachgoers in Argentina have triggered widespread condemnation from wildlife experts, animal lovers and activists. The Franciscana dolphin, which is classified as vulnerable as there are only 30,000 of them left in the wild, allegedly overheated and died while being paraded around by the group of tourists.
A video of the incident — which reportedly took place at the Santa Teresita beach — posted on YouTube shows a man picking up a dolphin from the sea and walking up to the beach with it, where dozens of people are then seen milling around the animal, touching it and taking selfies.
The miniature dolphin was eventually left to die in the mud, where it can be seen lying motionless.
“This incident should serve to remind people about the need to return these dolphins to the sea if one is found outside of the water,” the Argentine Wildlife Foundation (AWF) said in a statement released earlier this week. “It’s fundamental that people help rescue these animals because every Franciscan has value.”
Franciscana dolphins — also known as La Plata dolphins — are only found in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. These mammals, described by the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration as “extremely shy and evasive by nature,” are much smaller than other dolphin species, growing up to just over 5 feet.
“The potential for recovery of this species is very low,” the AWF said, in the statement. “The Franciscan, like other dolphins, cannot long remain above water. It has a very thick and greasy skin that provides warmth, so the weather will quickly cause dehydration and death.”
Users on social media also condemned the incident, expressing shock and dismay over the “stupidity” of those taking the selfies.
How do people's minds work?
Look, there's a baby dolphin in the sea.
I know. I'll get it out of the sea and take a selfie with it.
— Col Talbot (@ColTalbot1) February 18, 2016
a dolphin died because people took it out of water to take selfies with it
i don't know man, society is disappointing and stupid
— kingneemz (@NeemaSol) February 19, 2016