A rare La Plata dolphin died earlier this month after a group of beach-goers apparently took it out of the ocean, then surrounded and handled it, according to Vida Silvestre, a wildlife foundation in Argentina.
Sky News obtained video of a person removing a dolphin from the water in Santa Teresita, a coastal town about 350 kilometers southeast of Buenos Aires, and beachgoers took photos of a dolphin that appears to have been left to die in the sand.
The Argentine wildlife organization released a statement urging people to return the dolphins to sea if they come across them.
“It is vital that people help to rescue these animals, because every Franciscan counts,” they wrote.
The sea mammal, which typically shies away from humans, is found mostly in the waters of the Rio de La Plata and the Atlantic coast between Argentina and Uruguay, and has also been seen off the shores of Brazil.
The La Plata dolphin was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species after hundreds of them were caught annually in fishermen gillnets in the 1960s, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
La Plata dolphins — also known as Franciscan dolphins because their brown-toned skin is reminiscent of the attire of Franciscan monks — can live up to 20 years, according to NOAA.