The baby dolphin is believed to have perished from dehydration and overheating
Argentine wildlife organisations have issued warning to tourists after a baby dolphin, plucked from the sea and carried to the beach so that the crowd could take selfies with it, died of dehydration and overheating.
Photographs of the crowd gathered around the aquatic mammal, reaching out to touch it or take photographs with smartphones, was captured by Hernan Coria at the beach resort of Santa Teresita, near Buenos Aires. The La Plata dolphin, a species also known as the Franciscana, died shortly after.
The species, only found in the waters around Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, are less disposed to being removed from water than other dolphin; the thick fat layers of its skin regulate its body temperature, so when it is removed from the sea it can rapidly dehydrate and die.
This is the second La Plata dolphin to have been pictured surrounded by crowds of beach goers on the shore in recent weeks, according to the Argentinian branch of the Wildlife Foundation.
“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,” a spokesperson said.
“This incident should help the public understand the urgent need to return these dolphins to the sea when they get close to the shore.”
While not officially on the endangered species list, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the La Plata dolphin as vulnerable, saying fewer than 30,000 exist in the wild.
“It is fundamental that people help to rescue these animals, because every Franciscana counts now,” the Wildlife Foundation said.