A baby dolphin listed as endangered has died after being handled by Argentinian beachgoers last week.
The Franciscan dolphin died at the Santa Teresita resort in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after a throng of people were caught on video grabbing two or three of the marine mammals out of the water and passing them around to gawk and take selfies.
Images were posted to Facebook showing two dolphins being passed around in a party-like atmosphere.
Another image showed at least one of the animals being left to die on the sand.
“The Franciscan, like other species, cannot remain for much time out of the water. It has thick fatty skin which provides warmth, so the hot weather will cause rapid dehydration and death,” a spokesperson wrote on the Argentine Wildlife Foundation’s website.
“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 Franciscan counts.”
According to the the AWF, the Franciscan dolphin is one of the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world. It is “vulnerable to extinction” with just 30,000 believed to be left in the ocean.