A baby dolphin washed ashore on a Spanish beach and died after local tourists took pictures with it rather than releasing it back into the ocean.
According to a report from Independent, a young dolphin was found in very shallow waters in the popular resort village of Mojacar. Tourists approached the animal, took selfies with it and passed it around. It died shortly thereafter.
A marine life activist group was sharply critical of the tourists' actions, saying that if they had been more responsible about asking for assistance, they could have saved the dolphin. They said the dolphin, which was swimming in very shallow water near the shore, was anxious and confused after being separated from its mother.
"Once again we find that the human beings are the most irrational species that exists," wrote animal conservationist group Equinac on its Facebook page.
"Many are unable to feel empathy for a living being alone, scared, starving, without his mother and terrified because many of you, in your selfishness, only want to photograph and touch it, even if the animal suffers from stress," the post continued.
The group noted that as many as 100 people found the dolphin and began taking pictures with it, making special note of one child who appeared to inadvertently cover the dolphin's blowhole while rubbing it.
Equiniac staff members were able to rush to the scene after they were tipped off about the dolphin by an anonymous caller, but were unable to save the animal in time. The dolphin's remains were taken in by Equinac and are subject to an autopsy.
"Cetaceans are animals very susceptible to stress and ... crowding them to take pictures and touch them causes them a very strong shock that greatly accelerates a cardiorespiratory failure, which is what finally happened," the group said.
The group also warned that disturbing or otherwise harassing an endangered animal species like the dolphin can qualify as a criminal offense.
"For us the life of a single animal is important and why we put all our energies in order to help them live," reads Equinac's website, according to Newsweek. The organization also said it would not hesitate to help prosecute any other tourists they witness engaging in similar behavior.
According to Equinac, there are four species of dolphin that make their homes in the area's waters: Risso’s dolphin, the common bottlenose dolphin, the striped dolphin, and the short-beaked common dolphin.