A small dolphin is dead after a crowd of people on Sunday dragged the animal out of the water, apparently for photo ops.
Bystander video published by Argentina news outlet La Capital shows a group of people crowded around a dolphin, petting and touching it. The site says that the video was shot in the city of San Bernardo on Sunday.
A witness also said the dolphin was alive initially, but that the crowd “let him die” by keeping him out of the water, according to National Geographic’s translation of the news outlet.
“This is a tragic and senseless death and sadly shows some people’s focus on obtaining an animal selfie rather than thinking of the animal’s welfare,” said World Animal Protection in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post. “It is so disappointing to see yet again how wild animals are treated cruelly as photo props.”
Elizabeth Hogan, the group’s U.S. Oceans & Wildlife Campaign Manager, explained why being out of the water can be such a serious situation for dolphins.
“A dolphin’s body is not designed for land,” she said. “Prolonged exposure will present two immediate physiological problems ― the heat, and its own body weight, which is supported by buoyancy in the ocean but is not supported when beached on land. To lie on land puts tremendous pressure on their fins and lungs, making it incredibly difficult for the dolphin to breathe.”
Hogan added that a dolphin’s blubber keeps the animal’s temperature well-regulated in the water but causes them to overheat quickly out of the water.
She also noted that though she couldn’t identify the species of dolphin, it appeared to be a very young calf still dependent on its mother.
The incident bears an eerie similarity to another event last year. Last February, a mob of Buenos Aires beachgoers killed at least one dolphin after pulling two from the water so people could take pictures.
Numerous other wild animals have fallen victim to humans seeking photos, including a goat that drowned after a crowd inadvertently drove it into the ocean in Alaska, a swan that was injured and possibly died after a woman dragged the bird by its wing out the water in Bulgaria, and a shark dragged across the beach by its tail in Florida.