A baby dolphin, which was stranded by itself near a packed beach off the coast of southern Spain, has died after tourists surrounded it to take selfies with it.
Children were said to have accidentally covered the blowhole of the small female dolphin as crowds gathered around the stressed animal in the shallow waters of Mojacar, Spain, last week.
Equinac, a group which protects marine wildlife in the area, were called to the scene in Almería province, but it had already died by the time they arrived 15 minutes later.
The group, which posted heartbreaking photos from the scene, said it may have been sick or lost its mother at the time and the fact that it was being manhandled by the sunbathers would have increased its stress levels and caused it to die.
In its Facebook post, the group said: “The animal was submitted to the curiosity of those who wanted to photograph and touch it. The photographs showed children touching the animal, unintentionally covering the spiracle (blowhole).
“It’s not an animal for children or adults to caress.
“Cetaceans are very susceptible to stress, and crowding round it to take photos and to touch it causes them a big shock which greatly accelerates a cardiorespiratory failure, which is what happened.
“We’re not saying that the bathers were responsible for it becoming stranded.
“But crowding round to photograph and touch it of course causes these animals to become extremely stressed.”
Instead, the bathers should have called emergency services.
The group added: “Maybe we would not have been able to save it, but we would have tried.”
They also hit out at the tourists for taking photographs instead of leaving it alone.
They said: “Humans are the most irrational animal there is. Many people are unable to feel empathy for a living being which is frightened, starving hungry, without its mother and terrified. In their selfishness, all they want is to photograph it and touch it, even if the animal is suffering from stress.”
If you cannot see the Facebook post above, click here.