Dolphin Killed by Beachgoers?

A rare baby dolphin apparently died after being handled by a swarm of tourists in Argentina, although other reports claim they were trying to save it.

In February 2016, news reports from Argentina showed a group of people on a Buenos Aires beach with a baby dolphin. The reports said that the beachgoers had pulled the dolphin out of the water to pass around for photos.

Argentina news outlet La Nación (and other news outlets) cited a report from Vida Silvestre, a conservation group, stating that the tiny animal (a rare Franciscana, also known as a La Plata dolphin) died of dehydration not long afterward.

The crowd then reportedly left the dead dolphin in the sand:

Otro animal inofensivo es víctima de los humanos, a este delfín del plata bebe, especie en peligro de extinción, lo sacaron del agua para sacarle fotos y tocarlo. Solo a personas con muy poca educación o totalmente inepta se le necesita decir que el delfín es un animal marino y que necesita agua para vivir. La ignorancia mato a este animal que podría haber vivido 20 años mas. Para que esto no pase mas deberían enseñar los derechos de los animales, debería haber algún tipo de castigo para la gente que no los respeta como lo merecen, debería ser un delito matarlos o lastimarlos igual que con los humanos porque no somos ni un poco superiores haciendo esto. Somos un nuevo enemigo para ellos como tiburones y orcas que lo hacen por necesidad. Hay que generar conciencia de esto y aprender de los errores, esto no puede seguir pasando porque cada vez que pasa hay una o mas víctimas que sufren.

A photo posted by Maarttina✨?? (@martudiiaz) on

The story quickly drew widespread condemnation. A spokeswoman for Australia's arm of World Animal Protection condemned the beachgoers for using the animals "for entertainment purposes".  She told the ABC in Australia:

This terribly unfortunate event is an example of the casual cruelty people can inflict when they use animals for entertainment purposes, without thinking of the animal's needs.

At least one of these dolphins suffered a horrific, traumatic and utterly unnecessary death, for the sake of a few photographs. Wild animals are not toys or photo props. They should be appreciated — and left alone — in the wild where they belong.

However, at least one video claims that the beachgoers had found the dolphin in the shallows and were trying to save its life:

Telefe Noticias, an Argentinian news outlet, interviewed a tourist named Hernán Coria (who apparently took the photos).  He said that the day had been uncommonly hot, and several dead dolphins had washed up on the beach that day:

He was dead when it arrived on the coast.  We took him back to the sea and he didn't swim back out.

Pulling dolphins from the water puts them at risk for overheating and dehydration, because their thick skin and fat layers ordinarily keep them warm in cool or cold waters.

Last updated: 18 February 2016

Originally published: 18 February 2016

Brooke Binkowski is an award-winning journalist and researcher. She has written and produced for CNN, CBS, NPR, the Globe and Mail, AJ+, the Christian Science Monitor, and various other outlets. Brooke speaks two languages well and five languages very badly. She loves to travel, run, play music, and read, and is an avid saber fencer and an accordion enthusiast.



Snopes