A group of thoughtless, selfish tourists in Argentina ended up killing a baby dolphin all because they wanted to take “selfies” with it and pass the poor defenseless dolphin around to beach goers as if it were toy.
The incident occurred on a beach in the resort town of Santa Teresita in Argentina. The baby dolphin was a Franciscana dolphin also known as a La Plata Dolphin, which is listed as an endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is believed that only 30,000 specimens of this species still exist in the ocean. This particular species of dolphin exists solely in South America and can be found in waters off Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.
The Franciscana dolphins tend to swim close to the shoreline. One of the major threats to these dolphins are gillnets. Gillnets are a vertical type of net that allows fish to put their head through openings in the mesh, but not their bodies. Once their head is in the net they get stuck by their gills. However, now these poor creatures have a new predator—humans who want to take selfies and/or pass they around to pet and play with like they are some kind of “stuffed” animals.
According to a report by CBS News, the Argentine affiliate of the World Wildlife Foundation posted a message on its website reporting that two Franciscan dolphins had been pulled from the water by people at the beach, with at least one of the dolphins dying.
“Recently photographs taken in Santa Teresita showing a group of people passing a dolphin around on dry land on two occasions have emerged. At least one of these animals has died,” said the Wildlife Foundation via a statement. “This incident should help the public understand the urgent need to return these dolphins to the sea when they get close to the shore.”
Live footage was found showing beach goers pulling the baby dolphin from the water and passing it around to other bystanders.
The footage shows how bystanders not only looked at the dolphin, but took it out of the water to pet it and pass it around. Once the animal was taken from the water, they placed it on the shore for a bit and then passed it around some more to the careless mob.
This mob of people were so wrapped up in touching the dolphin and taking selfies with it that no one noticed the animal had died. Instead, they just keep passing it around. At some point someone apparently noticed the baby dolphin was dead, and it is cast onto the muddy shore of the beach.
Once the deceased dolphin was found, the dolphin’s thick layer of fat was analyzed. According to a local wildlife protection agency the baby dolphin dehydrated very quickly and died fairly soon after being pulled from the ocean
“At least one of these dolphins suffered a horrific, traumatic and utterly unnecessary death, for the sake of a few photographs,” a spokesperson from the World Animal Protection group told ABC in Australia, condemning the despicable incident. “This terribly unfortunate event is an example of the casual cruelty people can inflict when they use animals for entertainment purposes.”
The Argentine Wildlife Foundation also condemned the acts of these beach goers, and the incident has set social media on fire. Many people from around the globe are justifiably upset upon hearing the news.
“The potential for recovery of this species is very low,” the Argentine Wildlife Federation said. “The Franciscan, like other dolphins, can not long remain above water. It has a very thick and greasy skin that provides warmth, so the weather will quickly cause dehydration and death.”
The foundation called on members of the public to return the vulnerable dolphins to sea if they find them on the shore.
“It is fundamental that people help to rescue these animals, because every Franciscana counts now,” it added.