A dolphin stranded alive on a Texas beach died after a crowd “harassed” the animal and attempted to ride it.
On Sunday, a sick dolphin washed up onshore at Quintana Beach where beachgoers tried to swim with the animal and push it back to sea, according to a Facebook post from the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
“She was ultimately stranded and was further harassed by a crowd of people on the beach where she later died before rescuers could arrive on scene,” the post said.
The harassment could have caused undue stress to the wild dolphin, and the post said it not only is dangerous for people to interact with dolphins but also illegal.
“If a live dolphin or whale strands in Texas, please DO NOT PUSH the animal back to sea, do not attempt to swim or interact with them, do not crowd them,” the post said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends people observe marine mammals from at least 150 feet away and not feed or harass them.
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Those found in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act could face civil penalties of up to $11,000 and up to a year in prison.
According to the post, a beachgoer called to report the stranded dolphin, and the Quintana Beach County Park retrieved it to perform a necropsy.
“This was a tragedy,” the Quintana Beach County Park said in a Facebook post.
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.