Rare Dolphin Dies for Mob Selfie

Discarded after use by Buenos Aires beachgoers.

Two Franciscana dolphins were ripped from the waves near an Argentinan resort last week, then manhandled to shore, where they were passed around a clutching mob seeking cute selfie moments. In the process, at least one of the intelligent, playful cetaceans died from the experience. Franciscana, or La Plata, dolphins are unable to spend as long out of the water as their larger brethren.

“At least one of these dolphins suffered a horrific, traumatic and utterly unnecessary death, for the sake of a few photographs,” a spokesperson from the World Animal Protection group told ABC in Australia, condemning the despicable incident. “This terribly unfortunate event is an example of the casual cruelty people can inflict when they use animals for entertainment purposes.”

After being pet and pawed at by dozens of people, one of the small creatures was found discarded on the beach, its usefulness as a social-media prop at an end. It was left coated in sand and soon died slowly of dehydration. Several people continued to snap photos of it as it lay gasping, just feet from the water.

With only around 30,000 of the subspecies remaining, the La Plata dolphins, which can live to be 20 years old, are considered vulnerable to extinction. This isn’t the first case of a dolphin being killed for a moment of social-media mugging—an injured dolphin died after being out of the ocean for half an hour in China while men snapped pics. Even their toothier foes can fall victim to our insatiable content clamoring, as the small shark who succumbed to asphyxiation while families captured the moment for posterity in New York can attest.

The trend of snapping a self-portrait with animals is long set, although sea creatures generally lack the ability to strike back in the same fashion as, say, a bull or bison.

Adds some irony to the infamous—and debunked—claim that selfie-related accidents are more deadly to humans than shark attacks, eh? You’d think people would come to realize, since at the core this is all about bragging rights and attention, that they get better press for actually helping animals rather than selfishly destroying them. Something like saving a great white shark is the sort of social-media move heard ’round the world.

Not that the kind of people committing these acts are doing much in the way of thinking things through.