A mother and baby dolphin swim in the waters of their habitat, which is required to regulate the marine mammals' body temperatures. Photo by Vkilikov/Shutterstock
SANTA TERESITA, Argentina, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Beach-goers in Argentina drew global outrage Thursday after it was reported that a baby dolphin died after it was passed around among a group that were taking selfies with the animal.
The dolphin was captured by someone as it swam close to the shoreline in the coastal town of Santa Teresita. Excited vacationers immediately began snapping photos of the marine mammal, consequently keeping it out of the water for a short period of time.
Staying out of the water, though, is fatal for dolphins -- which require water to regulate their body temperatures.
After a few minutes, officials said, the baby dolphin overheated and died.
Photos of the ordeal were subsequently posted to social media channels, where they drew heavy criticism.
"Why would it ever be acceptable to pluck a baby dolphin from the water to be passed around for selfies?!? Disgusting," one person tweeted.
"I don't even know where to start with these people," one poster said in a comment thread following a report by Britain's Independent.
Comedian Ricky Gervais also took to Twitter to slam the selfie-takers responsible for the animal's death.
Argentinian wildlife officials also soundly condemned the group's actions, adding that two dolphins were removed from the water for photography purposes.
"This incident should serve to remind people about he need to return these dolphins to the sea if one is found outside of the water," the Argentine affiliate of the World Wildlife Foundation said in a statement Thursday. "It's fundamental that people help rescue these animals because every Franciscan has a value."
At least one video of the event was also posted online.
International wildlife officials say the Franciscan dolphin is a vulnerable species, which is expected to decline in numbers over the next few decades.