A baby dolphin is believed to have died after a man held it out of water for a selfie. The man lifted the young dolphin out of the water near Jacksonville, Florida, solely to capture an Instagram-worthy snapshot.
Local sources confirm that the individual responsible for the incident shared an image showing him holding the defenceless baby dolphin several feet above the water’s surface.
Outrage has swept through online communities as news of the incident spread, prompting law enforcement to take notice. The photograph has raised concerns about the well-being of the baby dolphin, with mounting fears that the creature may have died as a result.
Marine biology experts have weighed in on the matter, emphasizing the challenges in determining the dolphin’s status when the photograph was taken. While visual analysis alone cannot confirm that the dolphin was alive at the time of the photo, these experts assert that the creature would have likely passed away shortly afterwards.
Adding to the gravity of the situation, a recent report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has disclosed the discovery of a deceased male dolphin calf near the beach where the photo was taken.
Dr Quincy Gibson, from the University of North Florida’s Dolphin Research Program, revealed to News4Jax that FWC investigators suspect a correlation between the dead calf and the photographed incident. Their suspicions are based on the notable resemblance between the dorsal fins of the two dolphins, a distinctive feature similar to a human fingerprint.
The Federal Marina Mammal Protection Act categorically prohibits any interference with dolphins, dead or alive. Regrettably, removing a dolphin from its natural water environment can result in harm. Experts underscore the potential for fatal injuries arising from the removal, as the absence of water’s buoyancy places undue pressure on the dolphin’s anatomy. The consequences include the crushing weight of the creature’s own body, leading to catastrophic outcomes.
According to CBS News, individuals involved in the photo episode have not yet faced criminal charges.
A few years ago in Spain a baby dolphin died after being passed around tourists for photos. We cannot emphasize enough to leave wild animals alone, for both your own and their safety.[Via Petapixel]