Dolphin dies after being passed around on beach for photographs
Beachgoers surround a dolphin in Santa Teresita, Argentina. (Facebook/Hernan Coria)
Published Thursday, February 18, 2016 9:14AM EST
The death of a small, long-nosed dolphin at the hands of a group of beachgoers has prompted a warning from the Wildlife Foundation in Argentina.
According to the foundation, at least one Franciscana dolphin died after it was scooped up from the shore and paraded along the beach in Santa Teresita, Argentina.
Images on social media show visitors at the beach crowding around the small mammal and lifting it up to pet and photograph it.
A caption alongside the photos says the dolphin was the second mammal to wash up on the beach that day.
In a notice published on Tuesday, the wildlife foundation says at least one dolphin died in the photo-taking frenzy.
The foundation says the animal's death should serve a reminder that beached dolphins cannot survive out of water, and that they need to be returned to the ocean as soon as possible.
Franciscana dolphins, which are also known as Franciscan or Plata dolphins, only grow to be about 1.3 to 1.7 metres long, and their slender noses can make up as much as 15 per cent of their body length, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation charity says.
The small mammals are named after Franciscan monks, because the animal's brown-toned skin resembles the monks' habits.
Franciscana dolphins are found along the east coast of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified the species as "vulnerable" since 2008.
According to the conservation union, the biggest threat to the Franciscana dolphin population is accidental death in gillnet fisheries.