A sick dolphin that was beached in Texas died after beachgoers tried to ride it and swim with it.
The dolphin stranded alive on Quintana Beach on Sunday evening was reportedly ‘pushed back to sea where beachgoers attempted to swim with and ride the sick animal’, the nonprofit Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network wrote on earlier this week.
‘She ultimately stranded and was further harassed by a crowd of people on the beach where she later died before rescuers could arrive on scene,’ the nonprofit continued.
The organization shared an image of a crowd surrounding the female dolphin in shallow water with its fin sticking out in the air, and another one of it lying limp with people standing around it.
‘This type of harassment causes undue stress to wild dolphins, is dangerous for the people who interact with them, and is illegal,’ the nonprofit wrote.
Offenders could be fined and if convicted, be sentenced to jail time.
A beachgoer ultimately reported the stranded dolphin, the network said expressing gratitude. The Quintana Beach County Park arrived at the scene ‘quickly’.
The nonprofit advised: ‘If a live dolphin or whale strands in Texas, please DO NOT PUSH the animal back to sea, do not attempt to swim or interact with them, do not crowd them.’
Bystanders are advised to contact the network in similar situations in the future.
“In this case, it’s a pretty egregious example of what not to do,”
Texas A&M University at Galveston marine biologist Dr Christopher Marshall said, ‘in this case, it’s a pretty egregious example of what not to do’.
‘People riding the animal, the animal was quite sick, already stressed at this point,’ Marshall told . ‘The animal was probably on the brink and the stress is what killed it.’
The network linked to a page regarding harassing and feeding wild marine mammals, by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries. The page states that it is illegal to harass or feed dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals, sea lions and manatees.
‘For your safety, please do not feed, swim with, or harass these marine animals,’ it states. ‘We encourage you to observe them from a distance of at least 50 yards (150 feet).’
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