Guests at an Argentinian resort in Santa Teresita found a baby dolphin dying of dehydration on the beach. Instead of returning the poor animal back to the water where he belongs, they decided to parade him through the crowd so people could take selfies instead. After they had their fun, the dolphin was abandoned on the sand to die.

Making this incident even more tragic, the La Plata dolphin is a vulnerable species with only 30,000 left in the world. While they can typically live up to 20 years in the wild, they dehydrate easily when out of water.

The last photos of this dolphin show him tragically being grabbed and posed in the air as the crowd of beachgoers hold up their phones to grab a shot.

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Tragically, this calf didn’t even get a chance to survive due to the crowd’s interest in a selfie. After the people dispersed, this poor dolphin was left lifeless and alone on the sand.

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Sadly, this isn’t the first time that selfies have affected the well-being of a species. When sea turtles in Costa Rica flood the shores of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge to lay their eggs each month, tourists flock to the beach to capture the spectacle on camera. Last year, so many people gathered on the beach to be a part of the action, that they blocked the turtles from reaching land, and some even went as far as to place children on the backs of turtles just to snap a photo.

These instances illustrate the sad reality of what can happen when we involve wild animals in our selfie sessions. Yes, we all love to see animals, and getting up close to one may seem like an incredible experience, but certainly not at the expense of their lives.

The dolphin’s death has caused the Wildlife Foundation in Argentina to release a public reminder about the vulnerable species. However, we can all do our part by being more conscious of how our actions impact the world around us.  If we want the animals we love so much to be around for us all to see, we must learn to respect wildlife – as these unfortunate incidents show, not learning to live in harmony with our animal friends could literally cost them their lives.

These beachgoers could have become heroes by calling for professional help to assist this poor dolphin, rather than parading it around like a trophy. If you ever come across a wild animal in need, call a certified, experienced wildlife rehabilitator, rescuer, or vet. These professionals will determine the appropriate course of action (we’re sure none of which will involve selfies), and be able to successfully release the animal back into the wild when recovered.

All image source: Hernan Coria