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Dolphin Stranded on Texas Beach Dies After Swimmers Tried to Ride It: NPR


Dolphin Stranded on Texas Beach Dies After Swimmers Tried to Ride It: NPR

A dolphin stranded on a Texas beach has died after being harassed by a crowd of people who also tried to ride the animal, rescuers say.

The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network posted on Facebook that a female dolphin was found stranded, but alive, on the beach in Quintana, Texas last Sunday. Bathers pushed the animal back into the sea, but it was further harassed by people who tried to mount the sick animal.

She became stranded on the beach “and was harassed by a crowd of people on the beach where she later died before lifeguards arrived on the scene,” the organization said. “This type of harassment causes undue stress to wild dolphins, is dangerous to people who interact with them and is illegal – subject to fines and jail time if convicted.”

Quintana Beach County Park, which responded at the scene, called the incident a “tragedy.”

“Park staff have been called in to help keep the public away from the dolphin until rescuers can arrive from Galveston,” he posted on Facebook. “Unfortunately it was a recovery, not a rescue.”

Heidi Whitehead, executive director of the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, told NPR via email that attempting to straddle a stranded dolphin is “fortunately not common behavior that has been reported to us.”

Whitehead said the organization sees people attempting to feed or swim with dolphins, chasing groups of animals with boats or jet skis, or trying to pet them — all behaviors that are illegal. Violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act can result in civil penalties of up to $11,000 or up to one year in jail, in addition to other penalties.

She said illegal acts disrupt the natural behavior of animals and can cause injury, entanglement or death to dolphins, as in this most recent case.

Quintana Beach County Park said the animal’s body has since been taken for an autopsy to try to determine why it washed up on the beach.


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