La Plata Dolphin: Rare Dolphin Baby Killed After Beachgoers Pose For Selfies

A rare baby dolphin died after people on a beach in Argentina continually picked up the La Plata mammal and posed for it with selfies. The Franciscana dolphin, one of the smallest species of dolphin on the planet, was reportedly abandoned in the sand near the ocean after the photo snapping ended.

Two of the rare La Plata dolphins had washed up in the shallow water near the Santa Teresita beach resort in Buenos Aires. One of the dolphins survived being handled over and over again by humans. Even after one of the baby dolphins perished, its body was still picked up and used as a beachside photo prop, Fox News reports.

Local news reports said the dolphin was “manhandled to death” by the beachgoers. Images of the rare dolphin selfies went viral and quickly prompted outrage from animal lovers from around the world.

The La Plata River dolphin is known as one of the rarest dolphin species. Because a spotting of the mammal is so rare, not much is known about them, according to Dolphin World. It is the only river dolphin species which can also be found living in salt water. The dolphins typically grow to about four to six feet long and weigh up to 115 pounds when they reach adulthood. The dolphins have been known to frequent the Doce River in Brazil and the Peninsula Valdes in Argentina.

“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,” a representative from the World Animal Protection group said during an interview with ABC News. “Wild animals are not toys or photo props. They should be appreciated — and left alone — in the wild where they belong.”

A juvenile La Plata dolphin died being passed round by ppl hoping to get a selfie with it:

— Lily (@LilyLivingstone) February 18, 2016

After the death of the rare baby dolphin, the Argentinian Wildlife Foundation issued a release to the public urging the protection of the La Plata dolphins. The sea mammals are native only to the waters off Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. The group stated that the Fransiccana dolphins, like all other species of dolphins, cannot survive if they spend much time outside of the water. The dolphins possess a thick skin to keep them warm, and when they are removed from the water, the heat present on the beach will promptly cause dehydration and, ultimately, their death.

“This occasion serves to inform the public about the urgent necessity to return these dolphins to the sea as soon as possible if they find them on the shore,” the Wildlife Foundation release also said. “It is fundamental that people help to rescue these animals, because every Franciscana counts now.”

The dolphin species has been listed as “vulnerable” on the threatened species list created by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The rare dolphin builds its own habitat, and over the centuries, it is has been able to adapt to living in a variety of different types of waterways. The La Plata River is located near the Atlantic Ocean, making both fresh and salt waterway reachable by the elusive dolphins. It was first recognized as a species in the early 1800s. The La Plata dolphins are thought to be the only species of river dolphins that are not currently facing extinction.

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