Marine animal deaths due to human interference have become so common over the past two months that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently had to issue a statement, warning people to stop “helping” animals unnecessarily.
“The best thing people can do to help marine mammals on the beach is to leave them alone, staying 100 yards away, if possible,” the agency said. “Disturbing, feeding or attempting to move young seals or other marine mammals is illegal because it can stress the animals, interfere with their natural behavior and cause adult seals to abandon their pups.”
The advisory was released in the wake of two separate incidents in which two seal pups lost their lives because some individuals thought they needed help.
As it tragically turned out, they didn’t.
In June, a woman “rescued” what appeared to her an abandoned harbor seal pup on a beach in Westport, Washington, and put it inside a grocery bag. Not knowing what to do with it further, she called Westport Aquarium for help. However, it was too late since the pup was lethargic and unresponsive. It had to be euthanized.
In another incident, a couple in Oregon came across a seal pup. They also assumed it had been abandoned and so decided to “save” it by wrapping it in a towel, taking it home where they put it in the shower. The little pup was released into the sea but was found dead one day later.
While these two incidents involve – presumably – well-meaning, albeit uninformed, humans interfering with local wildlife, it’s not always the case.
There are quite a few examples of people who caused the death of an animal because they were too ignorant to understand – or too cruel to care – about the impact of their actions on a living creature.
Case in point: A jaguar named Juma was recently shot and killed after the Olympic torch ceremony in Brazil after it escaped its handlers. Its only crime was a wild animal that was being showcased at an event jam-packed with humans.
“When will we learn? Wild animals held captive and forced to do things that are frightening, sometimes painful, and always unnatural, are ticking time bombs — our actions put them and humans at risk,” Brittany Peet, director of captive animal law enforcement at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a moving statement, following Juma’s death.
Then there are worse instances; of humans terrorizing and brutalizing wildlife and marine life for the sake of vanity. In 2016, a group of tourists in Argentina killed a rare baby dolphin after grabbing it out of the water so they could take selfies.
For more examples, watch the video above.