A baby dolphin has been killed by tourists at the Spanish seaside resort of Mojacar in Almeria province, reports the marine wildlife group Equinac.
In a Facebook post, Equinac claimed the small female, still of breast-feeding age, died after being handed round by bathers posing for photographs on a packed tourist beach.
According to Equinac, the dolphin lost its mother and became stranded in shallow waters off the coast of southern Spain. When they saw the little animal, the thoughtless tourists pulled it from the sea, stroked it and passed it round for selfies.
By the time marine conservationists heard about the incident and arrived on the scene to save the dolphin, the animal had died due to stress caused by the humans. The Daily Mail quoted Equinac as saying:
“Humans are the most irrational animal there is. Many people are unable to feel empathy for a living being which is frightened, starving hungry, without its mother and terrified. In their selfishness, all they want is to photograph it and touch it, even if the animal is suffering from stress.
“The animal was submitted to the curiosity of those who wanted to photograph and touch it. The photographs showed children touching the animal, unintentionally covering the spiracle (blowhole).
“It’s not an animal for children or adults to caress. Cetaceans are very susceptible to stress, and crowding round it to take photos and to touch it causes them a big shock which greatly accelerates a cardio-respiratory failure, which is what happened.
“We’re not saying that the bathers were responsible for it becoming stranded. It became stranded because it was sick or because it lost its mother, without whom it cannot survive. But crowding round to photograph and touch it of course causes these animals to become extremely stressed.”
Equinac, which warned disturbing a protected species of dolphin could be a criminal offence, noted only four species of dolphin are found off the coast of Almeira, along with porpoirses and six species of whale.
This is not the first time such a terrible incident has happened. Sunbathers in Argentina were heavily criticized on social media in January 2016 after they posed for selfies with a dolphin they took out of the water.
Social media outrage led to prosecutors launching an investigation to discover who took the animal out of the water. A tourist who filmed the scenes later said it was already dead before it was paraded along the beach, south of Buenos Aires.