A dolphin stranded on a Texas beach died after a crowd of people “harassed” the animal and tried to ride it, rescue officials said.
The female dolphin washed up on Quintana Beach Sunday evening and was reportedly pushed back to sea while beachgoers tried to “swim with and ride the sick animal,” the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network said in a Facebook post.
“She 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 organization said.
Harassing stranded sea animals causes stress and can also be dangerous for the people who interact with them, but it is also illegal, rescue officials said in the post.
Violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act could lead to civil penalties of up to $11,000 and up to a year in prison.
“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 Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network said.
Ultimately, a person at the beach called Quintana Beach County Park for assistance. The park called the incident a “tragedy.”
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.