The world of social media has erupted in outrage after video and photos surfaced of tourists dragging a baby dolphin out of the ocean.
The La Plata dolphin is listed as “Vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, the Franciscana is a particular conservation concern because of its restricted distribution and vulnerability to incidental capture in fishing gear. Large numbers are killed in gillnets. Although the largest documented catches in the 1970s were in Uruguay, catches in recent decades have also been high in southern Brazil and Argentina. Scientists from all three countries have voiced their concerns, and asked for international assistance in highlighting the plight of the dolphin (see Reeves et al., pg. 53).
The species is listed on Appendix I and Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It is listed on Appendix I as this species has been categorized as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant proportion of its range. CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. It is listed on Appendix II as it has an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organised by tailored agreements.
A young La Plata dolphin was rescued in 2011 off Montevideo, Uruguay. In February 2016 a young dolphin died on the beach of Santa Teresita, Argentina. Reports circulated internationally that the dolphin’s death resulted after being passed around by a crowd who were posing for selfies with it. However, an interview by the photographer of the images, Hernan Coria, contradicting such claim.