One dolphin who was stranded on a Texas beach sadly passed away after it was allegedly harassed by beachgoers who were attempting to ride and swim with the animal.
Sources report that the animal washed up on Quintana Beach last week. Although beachgoers attempted to save the animal by pushing it back to sea, they then reportedly began to try to “swim and ride the sick animal” which caused the dolphin to die of stress before rescuers could arrive on the scene.
This tragic incident has many animal advocates calling for reinforced protections for marine life and further education to prevent needless deaths.
Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network Speaks Out Against Dolphin Harassment
The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network reported the incident on their Facebook page earlier this week.
According to their Facebook page, “The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network is a non-profit 501C3 organization dedicated to marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, research and education and provides a coordinated response to all stranded and injured marine mammals along the Texas coast.”
In the post, dated April 12, they shared photos that show several beachgoers standing around the dolphin. One male looks like he is holding the dolphin down, with one hand behind his fin and the other on its tail.
“The dolphin in these photos stranded alive on Quintana Beach, TX on Sunday evening and was reportedly pushed back to the sea where beachgoers attempted to swim with and ride the sick animal,” the dolphin rescue team alleges.
They continue, “She ultimately stranded and was further harassed by a crowd of people on the beach where she later died before rescuers could arrive on the scene. This type of harassment causes undue stress to wild dolphins, is dangerous for the people who interact with them, and is illegal – punishable by fines and jail time if convicted.”
Touching Marine Life Is Punishable By Steep Fines And Jail Time
Dolphins are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the rescue team is correct in saying that it is illegal – and not advised – to interact with wildlife. Violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act could lead to up to a year in prison and up to $11,000 dollars in civil penalties.
The dolphin rescue team asked Texas residents, “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, and immediately call 1-800-9MAMMAL (1-800-962-6625) for guidance on how to help support the animal until the TMMSN rescue response arrives!”
They added, “We’d like to thank the beachgoer who reported the stranding, and the Quintana Beach County Park for getting on-site as quickly as possible!”
Unfortunately, the dolphin died just two days before National Dolphin Day.
National Dolphin Day Reminds Residents How To Enjoy Viewing Dolphins Safely
Two days later, on April 14, the world celebrated National Dolphin Day. The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network decided to honor the day by reminding residents how to view dolphins responsibly from a safe distance while out in the water.
They also shared the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMSF) viewing guidelines, which include remaining at least 50 years away, limiting the viewing time to 30 minutes or less, don’t chase or circle the dolphins, don’t trap the dolphins on the boat or land, avoid excessive speeds or changes in direction, avoid approaching where there are calves (baby dolphins), don’t drive a boat between a mother and a calf, and don’t approach the area if another boat is already present.
They capped off the post by reminding everyone, “If you find a stranded dolphin in Texas, alive or dead, please call 1-800-9MAMMAL (1-800-962-6625)!”