Marine authorities in Spain have slammed tourists in the popular resort of Mojacar in southern Spain following the death of a baby dolphin close to shore. Beachgoers had crowded the animal, touching it and holding it to take selfies, leading to its demise.

Dolphin becomes separated from its mother off Mojacar

The incident happened on Friday when a young female dolphin was spotted in shallow water off the beach in Mojacar after being separated from its mother. Crowds of beach goers immediately swarmed the baby dolphin, touching and stroking it, while taking selfies.

In some photos shared on social media, children were seen to accidentally cover the dolphin’s blowhole, stopping its ability to breathe. The arrival of the dolphin had immediately been reported to marine rescue personnel, but by the time they arrived on the scene 15 minutes later, the dolphin was already dead.

Marine animal rescue group slams the incident

Equinac, a non-profit marine animal rescue group in the area, said in a statement on Facebook that dolphins, and cetaceans in general, are highly sensitive creatures and susceptible to stress.

Crowding the creatures to take photos of them leads to shock and accelerates the possibility of cardio respiratory failure, which is what happened to this baby dolphin.

Equinac did acknowledge that the baby would most likely have died anyway, as it was so young and was still being milk-fed its mother. However, they went on to say that by crowding around and touching it for the sake of selfies, would have caused huge stress to the dolphin, hastening its death.

Speaking to El Pais (in English), a spokesman added that while they may not have able to rescue the baby dolphin, at least they could have tried. The group went on to stress that should anyone come across a stranded dolphin or other marine creature on the beach, they should keep their distance and immediately call the local emergency number.

The marine rescue group regularly posts images online of its rescue attempts, while showing dead dolphins found to have washed ashore. They stressed in a further Facebook post that no matter how many times they try to educate the public on what to do in this type of situation, people just don’t seem to listen.

Similar incident with baby dolphin in Argentina

As noted by the Washington Post, this latest incident in Spain strongly resembles a similar incident in Argentina last year, where beachgoers passed around a baby dolphin to take selfies. That dolphin also died, leading to condemnation and public shaming against the people who had contributed to the animal’s death.