Endangered dolphin dies after beachgoers hold it for photos

Franciscana dolphin found at Argentinean beach is considered a threatened species

The Wildlife Foundation in Argentina has urged people to return beached dolphins to the sea as soon as possible, after a dolphin died having been passed around so that beachgoers could take photos with it.

Images on Facebook showed a man holding up an endangered Franciscana dolphin on the beach at Santa Teresita, in Buenos Aires province, as people jostled to stroke or take pictures of the creature, seemingly oblivious of its plight.

Another photo showed the same dolphin lying dead on its side.

The dolphin is believed to have been the second to wash up on the beach that day.


“The occasion serves to inform the public of the urgent need to return these dolphins to sea,” the foundation said on its website. “It is vital that people help to rescue these animals, because every Franciscana counts.”

One of the smallest dolphins in the world, the Franciscana or Plata dolphin measures between 1.30m and 1.70m long.

It gets its name from its brown skin tones, reminiscent of the habit of the Franciscan monks.

It is found only in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina - mainly off the coast of Buenos Aires province.

The Franciscana is thought to number fewer than 30,000. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), it is vulnerable to extinction; for years about 500-800 dolphins were caught annually in fishermen’s nets in Buenos Aires province.

The Franciscana, like other dolphins, cannot long remain out of water, the foundation said.

Its very thick and greasy skin provides warmth, but out of water, warm weather will quickly cause dehydration and death.

The Guardian