A baby dolphin has died after it was surrounded by tourists looking to take photographs on a beach in southern Spain.
It had lost its mother and become stranded in shallow waters off the coast of Mojacar in Andalucia.
Tourists then began touching and photographing the animal rather than seeking help for it.
Equinac, a local NGO, said “selfishness” caused the dolphin “suffering and stress.”
The organisation, which works to protect marine wildlife in the area, wrote in a Facebook post (in Spanish): “The animal was subjected to the curious who wanted to photograph and touch it.
“These animals are highly protected; to disturb them, to harm them, to manipulate them and to harass them is prohibited by law, and we always ask for respect and consideration.”
A concerned onlooker called 112 to alert the animal rescue service about what was happening, but the baby dolphin had already died when the group arrived 15 minutes later, Equinac said.
Dolphins are “highly susceptible” to stress and can die very quickly from it, the charity explained. The intense attention the baby dolphin received on the beach could have caused a “strong shock” for it that may have aggravated an already dangerous situation, Equinac said.
The non-profit organization criticized those who swarmed the dolphin in one of their Facebook updates.
“Humans are the most irrational animal there is,” the group said in roughly translated post. “In their selfishness, all they want to do is photograph it and touch it, even if the animal is suffering from stress.”
The beachgoers weren’t responsible for the dolphin being stranded in the first place, Equinac clarified. The group speculated that the baby dolphin might have been beached because it was sick or separated from its mother.