Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina beach dolphin selfies criticised

Screen grab of tweet sent by environmental group warning people to rescue dolphins if they are found Image copyright Twitter @Vida_Silvestre
Image caption An environmental group warned people to help dolphins to return to the water: "I shared this picture so the next time it can be rescued"

There is criticism in Argentina as pictures show people taking selfies with endangered dolphins on a beach.

Wildlife experts and social media users expressed outrage as images showed a crowd of people holding and touching a dolphin in the city of Santa Teresita.

One report suggested the dolphin was already dead, contradicting accounts that it had been pulled out of the sea.

The Franciscana dolphin is vulnerable to extinction, and conservationists say only 30,000 of them live in the wild.

An Argentine wildlife foundation said that two dolphins were found by beach-goers and that at least one of them was dead.

A video of the incident appears to show a man taking one dolphin from the sea and walking around with it.

In pictures posted on Facebook, dozens of people are seen around the animal, touching it and taking photos.

The tourists were condemned online for supposedly killing the animal, but it is not clear if the images are of the same dolphin.

Hernan Coria, who took the photos, has since told Argentine media that the dolphin had washed up dead on the beach (in Spanish).

He said people had tried to take it back to the water but that it wouldn't swim away.

The Franciscan or Del Plata dolphin is one of the smallest in the world, measuring between 1.3m (4.2ft) and 1.7m (5.5ft), the foundation said. They can be found only in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

Image copyright Twitter @Vida_Silvestre
Image caption A conservation group has advised people on what to do if a dolphin is found stranded, such as calling authorities

After the images emerged, the Vida Silvestre Foundation, a conservation group, issued a warning, telling people to help the animal return to the water if they are found stranded "so history will not repeat itself".

Users on social media also condemned the incident, with many calling it the result of "stupidity" and "ignorance".

Image copyright Twitter @Tequila_Club__
Image caption "A selfie is not worth a life,' this Twitter user said
Image copyright Twitter @JaguarSPK
Image caption This one said: "Human stupidity is not endangered, the Del Plata dolphin is"

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