A young dolphin has died of suspected dehydration after being paraded around like a trophy and stroked by a crowd of sunbathers who then abandoned it on the sand.

The group of people huddled around the mammal taking selfies after it was found on the Argentine beach resort of Santa Teresita in the north-eastern Buenos Aires Province.

Dozens of people crowded round to look at the squirming calf as they strained to touch it, and have their photos taken with it.

The La Plata dolphin - also known as the Franciscana dolphin can live to be twenty years old.

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The last tragic images show the body, abandoned on the sand, as people continue to take pictures.

The episode has caused the Wildlife Foundation in Argentina to emit a public reminder about the vulnerable species, which only present off the coast of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

"The Franciscana, like other species, cannot remain for much time outside of the water, it has thick fatty skin which gives it heat and means that taking it out of the water rapidly causes it to dehydrate and die," they said.

"This occasion serves to inform the public about the urgent necessity to return these dolphins to the sea as soon as possible if they find them on the shore. It is fundamental that people help to rescue these animals, because every Franciscana counts now."

The Franciscana dolphin is listed as Vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Red List of Threatened Species.

However, the Franciscana is of particular conservation concern because of its restricted distribution and vulnerability to incidental capture in fishing gear. There are only around 30,000 examples thought to be left in the world.

- Daily Mail