In the age of social media, people do a lot of crazy things for attention. Unfortunately, this often comes at the expense of those around them. Several events over the years have made this apparent. Most people remember the Poppy Apocolypse of 2019. In essence, tourists from around the world descended on California for the super bloom to take photos of themselves. By the end of it, they collectively had destroyed the plants and generally caused mayhem for the residence of Lake Elsinore. As terrible as that event was, there are plenty of worse examples that, for whatever reason, don’t get the same level of attention. One such case involved a baby Franciscan dolphin back in 2016.

The small baby dolphin got carried into shore close to the Santa Teresita resort in Buenas Aires, Argentina. Naturally, this drew the attention of nearby vacationers. For most people, it’s not every day you get the opportunity to see a baby dolphin up close. It wasn’t long, however, before every vacationer wanted to take a photo of them holding the dolphin. Hundreds of people then began to pass the dolphin around for their turn to take a selfie. Quickly, the animal became just another interesting prop to spice up people’s photos. While dolphins are mammals and don’t need water to breathe, even adult dolphins can’t survive for long on a hot beach. As one might expect, the young dolphin died. As a contributor for the Fundacion Vida Silvestre commented following the event, “The Franciscan dolphin, like other dolphins, can’t survive outside of water for long. It has very thick and greasy skin that provides warmth, so the weather quickly causes dehydration and death.”

The tourists never intended to kill the dolphin. Most didn’t even realize what was happening. However, the general apathy towards the animal didn’t end with death. According to witnesses, once the last tourist lost interest in the animal, the person just cast it aside. Passerbys then proceeded to poke at the corpse. Some even continued to take photos and videos with the dead body. One of the more aware spectators lamented how no one considered returning the animal to the water while “he was still breathing.” Franciscan dolphins are one of many dolphin species native to Argentina, Uraguay, and Brazil. There are, however, less than 30,000 left in the wild. The most significant cause of their dwindling numbers comes from human contact. Each year, fishermen accidentally catch anywhere from 500 to 800 of them in the Buenas Aires region alone. While most people would hope awareness of this creature’s endangered status might have resulted in a different outcome, it’s unlikely. All that knowledge of its rarity would have likely caused is an increase in the size of the crowd. What these events and others like it should do is call our society’s priorities into question.