ARGENTINA - A small dolphin died after people at an Argentine beach held it out of water, purportedly so they could stroke it and take photos with it.
Photos posted on Facebook by one Hernan Coria on Feb 11 showed the La Plata dolphin being held aloft amid a crowd of people on the beach at Santa Teresita in Buenos Aires. Many in the throng can be seen touching the animal, while others are seen holding mobile phones.
The Daily Mail reported that the dolphin was found on the beach, while other reports said that it was pulled from the water.
The Daily Mail added that the dolphin later died of suspected dehydration, and was left abandoned on the sand, even as people still took photos of it. La Plata dolphins have been classified as a vulnerable species. There are thought to be fewer than 30,000 left in the world.
The Argentine Wildlife Foundation said in a statement that La Plata dolphins cannot remain for very long outside the water. It has thick, fatty skin for warmth, but that means taking it out of the water causes it to quickly dehydrate and die.
"This occasion serves to inform the public about the urgent necessity to return these dolphins to the sea as soon as possible if they find them on the shore. It is fundamental that people help to rescue these animals, because every Franciscana counts now," it added, according to The Daily Mail.
The foundation also said that it could not be confirmed if the dolphin was already dead when it was found, Buzzfeed reported.