On Sunday, beachgoers in Freeport, Texas killed a stranded dolphin on Quintana Beach after they pushed it back to sea and "attempted to swim with and ride" the sick animal.
The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network's Facebook page reported the crowd harassed the mammal until it ultimately died before rescuers arrived.
The incident caused much public outrage.
A local dolphin expert called the harassment an example of exactly what not to do in a situation like this.
Federal officials are now investigating the incident.
You can watch a news report, here.
Heidi Whitehead, the executive director of Stranding Network, told the Houston Chronicle:
“Dolphins strand because they are sick or injured, and will most likely drown if returned to sea or re-strand in worse condition."
Marine biologist, Dr. Chris Marshall, with Texas A&M University Galveston, told KHOU:
"The animal was quite sick, was already stressed out, and it probably pushed the animal over the brink in terms of stress."
"The stress is probably what killed it."
The Stranding Network's Facebook page also stated:
"This type of harassment causes undue stress to wild dolphins, is dangerous for the people who interact with them."
Marshall also mentioned what the beachgoers may not have known was that dolphins, and all marine mammals, are federally protected.
Harassing them could lead to legal consequences if convicted–including serious fines and or imprisonment.
The news headline did little to improve the Lone Star state's image.
The organization urged anyone who sees a live dolphin or whale stranded to not push the animal back to sea.
"Do not attempt to swim or interact with them, do not crowd them, and immediately call 1-800-9MAMMAL (1-800-962-6625) for guidance on how to help support the animal until the TMMSN rescue response arrives!"