My faith in humanity just took a nosedive. We've seen plenty of people injuring themselves pursuing the prospect of social media accolades, but now, the pursuit of likes has taken on an exploitative nature and has killed an innocent creature in the process.
The La Plata dolphin, a rare species (only 30,000 are estimated to exist, giving it a "vulnerable" status), is known for its tendency to shy away from humans. Nonetheless, tourists in Argentina passed one around for selfies, crowding and fighting for the chance to hold it, until it died of dehydration. Said Ayelén Rodriguez: "It was just a baby, an incredible animal that had the misfortune of running into the worst kind of mammals — humans."
I often read discussions on the ethics of disturbing habitats, or even effecting a change in animal behavior simply by being present with a foreign-looking object — a camera. To knowingly and willingly destroy an animal's life simply for social media attention, though, that's just abhorrent. This isn't the first time selfie culture has threatened or destroyed wildlife either; in recent years, sea turtles in Costa Rica have been forced to abandon nesting sites that have been overrun by tourists seeking pictures with the creatures.
While those involved in this incident were likely normal tourists, not necessarily professional photographers, it serves as a stark reminder that whenever we pick up a camera, we have a responsibility to respect that which we point it at and to never endanger any form of life simply for "the shot."
Lead image by Flickr user nakhon100, used under Creative Commons.