A young endangered dolphin died on an Argentinean beach last week after it was picked up from the water and passed around by people who wanted to take pictures with it.
Two Franciscana dolphins, an endangered species, were taken out of the water by a tourist staying at the Santa Teresita beach resort, Argentina. They were passed around by beach-goers who started taking pictures with the animals. As a result of being overheated and kept out of the water, one of the dolphins died.
Shockingly, the animal was still passed around after it was dead and was eventually left on the sand. The video of the incident also shows how the animal was picked up by an individual and enveloped by tourists wanting to touch and take pictures with it. The dead dolphin can be seen in the same video lying motionless in the sand. None of the people made any effort to return the animal to the water.
An image was tweeted by the Argentinean WWF, which was captioned, “If you see a Franciscana dolphin, help to return it to the water. Situations like the one in this photo can lead to the death of the animal.” A statement released by the Argentine Wildlife Foundation heavily condemned the incident, emphasizing people to return dolphins encountered on shores to the water.
“The Franciscana [also known as La Plata], like other dolphin species, cannot survive for very long out of the water. It has thick fatty skin which provides warmth, so the hot weather will cause rapid dehydration and death,” a representative of the AWF said. “At least one of the animals [from the photos taken in Santa Teresita] died. The incident prompts us to inform the public about the urgent need to return these dolphins to the sea if one is found on the shore. It is vital to help rescue these animals, because every Franciscana counts.”
According to the Washington Post, the Franciscana dolphins, or the La Plata dolphins, are an endangered species; only 30,000 of them are left worldwide. They are found in the South American countries of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Labeled as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, the Franciscana dolphins are the only river dolphins to swim in saltwater.