“Many are unable to feel empathy for a living being alone, scared, starving, without his mother and terrified because many of you, in your selfishness, only want to photograph and touch it, even if the animal suffers from stress.” - Equinac
Last Friday, beachgoers and tourists in Mojácar, Spain, reportedly took turns touching a baby dolphin who was stranded on the shore, poking it and taking turns taking pictures of it and with it, according to Equinac, a non-governmental organization that focuses on stranded turtle and cetacean life in the province of Almeria. As selfie-seekers crowded around the infant mammal, one concerned citizen called emergency services, but by the time Equinac rescuers arrived just 15 minutes later, the dolphin had already died.
The Independent noted that “[p]ictures emerged of bathers stroking the tiny mammal, young enough to still need breastfeeding, as it floated ‘frightened and weak’ in the shallows after being separated from its mother.” One picture appears to show a child inadvertently covering its blowhole.
“Once again we find that the human beings are the most irrational species that exists,” they reportedly wrote, according to the translation.
They discussed the details of what the dolphin endured, speculating that the stress it endured ultimately caused its death:
“Cetaceans are animals very susceptible to stress and… crowding them to take pictures and touch them causes them a very strong shock that greatly accelerates a cardiorespiratory failure, which is what finally happened.”
The dolphin’s body will undergo an autopsy so the exact cause of death can be determined.
Addressing the humans involved, Equinac said:
“Many are unable to feel empathy for a living being alone, scared, starving, without his mother and terrified because many of you, in your selfishness, only want to photograph and touch it, even if the animal suffers from stress.”
The group advised people to call emergency services in situations like these, also warning that touching or disturbing a protected species could be a criminal offense.
“These animals are highly protected; to disturb them, to harm them, to manipulate them and to harass them is prohibited by law, and we always ask for respect and consideration,” they said.
This is not the first time humans’ fascination with animals and their desire to snap selfies with them has caused harm to marine life. Last year, beachgoers in Argentina killed a baby dolphin after passing it around to take pictures with it. Also last year, a sea turtle was dragged out of the ocean in Lebanon, and ultimately beaten as people seized photo opportunities. The turtle had to receive treatment for its injuries.
These animals are not alone. Humans are increasingly accidentally killing themselves in their pursuit of impressive shots. Death by selfie has become a new global phenomenon.