A picture may be worth a thousand words — but this one cost a life.
Last week, a young Franciscana dolphin was killed on a beach in Argentina as a consequence of rough handling by throngs of eager tourists. The animal, along with another dolphin, had reportedly been yanked from the water so people could take photos.
Images from the scene show one of the dolphins surrounded by a crowd of beachgoers, unprotected from the hot sun.
"[Dolphins] can not remain long above water," an environmentalist from the Vida Silvestre Foundation wrote online in response to the incident. "They have very thick and greasy skin that provides warmth, so the weather will quickly cause dehydration and death."
The group confirmed that at least one of the dolphins perished.
As if the loss of life for the sake of photographs wasn't troubling enough, Franciscana dolphins are listed as a "vulnerable" species, found only in the waters of southeastern South America.
Sadly, this wouldn't be the first time human curiosity and self-absorption has resulted in the death of an animal at the hands of camera-wielding tourists. Perhaps it's indicative of a growing drive to capture moments for virtual enjoyment, even at the expense of better judgment — and sometimes even innocent lives.
UPDATE: The tourist whose photographs on Facebook were originally embedded in this post has removed them. He has since stated that the dolphin was dead prior to being handled by the crowd.
In a video reportedly showing the animal being removed from the water, the dolphin appears listless in the surf, but not clearly deceased.