Dolphins are one of the most majestic and intelligent sea creatures. But sadly, humans can put their lives in danger. There have been incidents of human tourists being careless around dolphins, inadvertently leading to their deaths.
That was the heartbreaking case recently, after a beached dolphin died after being harassed by tourists.
According to a Facebook post by the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, the female dolphin washed up on the shore in Quintana Beach, Texas.
The dolphin was sick and distressed — and the situation was made worse as tourists crowded around the beached animal, reportedly trying to “swim with and ride” the dolphin.
The harassment caused “undue stress” for the dolphin, and sadly she died before rescuers could arrive on the scene.
Perhaps it’s because dolphins are seen as friendly, approachable animals, or because they’re often used in SeaWorld-type shows or “swim with dolphins” opportunities, but some people are too comfortable handling wild dolphins in ways that cause distress or worse: a few years ago, tourists killed a baby dolphin after passing it around for “selfies.”
The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network shared the heartbreaking story as a reminder to give dolphins the respect and space they deserve.
“This type of harassment causes undue stress to wild dolphins, is dangerous for the people who interact with them, and is illegal – punishable by fines and jail time if convicted,” they wrote on Facebook.
According to NBC News, harassing stranded animals is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which is punishable by up to $11,000 and a year in prison.
While attempting to “ride” the beached dolphin was obviously wrong, they also stressed that in this situation you also shouldn’t try to push the dolphin back into the sea. If you find a beached animal in Texas, they suggest calling 1-800-9MAMMAL and waiting for the rescue response team.
The poor dolphin — it’s another heartbreaking reminder of how careless and cruel some people can be around wild animals. We need to respect wildlife and get them help when they need it, instead of thinking about photo ops.
Please share this story as a reminder of how we need to protect animals and speak up against cruelty.