A rare La Plata dolphin died earlier this month after a group of beach-goers apparently took it out of the ocean, then surrounded and handled it.
Footage shows the small dolphin being scooped up and taken to land where it was surrounded by a gawking crowd. It quickly overheated and died when it was paraded along the beach so holiday-makers could take photos.
During the video shot at Santa Teresita beach, people can be heard saying ‘Take it to the water’ and ‘Poor thing, don’t touch it’.
But tourist Hernan Coria says the dolphin was one of many which had washed up dead on the beach.
‘The water was very hot. It was full of jellyfish and people were not going in the water,’ he told local news outlet Telefe Noticias.
‘Everything happened in five minutes. It was washed up already dead. They took it back to the water but it wouldn’t go back out.’
According to Coria there was no lifeguard on duty to help and nearby beaches also had dead dolphins washing up.
‘The day before the same thing happened,’ he said.
Coria says he’s been shocked by the reaction towards his photos of the baby dolphin, which is of the Franciscana variety and is considered a vulnerable species with only 30,000 of its kind left in the world.
Argentina’s World Wildlife Fund says it hopes people will learn from the incident.
‘The occasion serves to inform the public about the urgent need to return these dolphins to sea before the encounter with one on the shore,’ it said in a statement.