A rare baby dolphin was killed by selfie-obsessed beachgoers last week in Santa Teresita, Argentina. The Vida Silvestre Foundation, a group that represents the World Wildlife Fund in Argentina, confirmed that the dolphin most likely died from dehydration.

The Vida Silvestre Foundation stated that two dolphins were pulled out of the water and paraded around so the crowd can take pictures with them, killing one in the process. The dolphin has been identified as the Franciscana or La Plata, an extremely rare species of dolphins, around 1.5 metres long, endemic to Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

The foundation explained that some may think that dolphins can breathe air and survive out of water like other land mammals. However, their skin dehydrates and their bodies overheat quickly once they are out of the water.

Hernán Coria

Hernan Coria

“This is more than upsetting. It is an indictment of how our species treats other animals — as objects for our benefit, as props, as things with value only in relation to us. This is a terribly painful story but it goes on, writ large, every day all over the world,” says Lori Marino, executive director of The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy.

“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,” lamented a spokeswoman for Australia’s arm of World Animal Protection

The spokeswoman adds that wild animals are not toys or props for a photo op. They should be left alone in the wild where they belong. Marino notes that most people consider animals as simply adornments that can be thrown away like garbage after using them.

Marino recommends onlookers to report a stranded dolphin to the authorities. Beachgoers must ensure to keep the dolphin floating in the water and keep its skin wet while avoiding too much physical contact to avoid spreading diseases.