Florida Fisheries Department and NOAA have launched an investigation.

A teenager is being slammed online after he pulled a dolphin out of the water for an Instagram photo and the mammal later died. New York Post said the 19-year-old remains unidentified. He had posted a smiling photo of himself hoisting the dolphin calf on Amelia Island, along Florida’s northeast coast. The young dolphin was found dead in the same area on Wednesday, the outlet further said. The social media post prompted a probe from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee (FWC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A picture of the dolphin in the FWC report shows the animal bloated and bleeding from mouth. Dr Quincy Gibson, an associate professor of coastal and marine biology at UNF, it is part of the fish’s decomposition process.

“I think it’s highly likely that it died after (the photo was taken), but there is a very small chance that it was deceased recently, when they picked it up in the water,” Dr Gibson said.

“But based off of the reports that I’ve heard, and the photo and the way that the people are behaving in the photo, it makes it seem like they did catch it… and it was potentially alive at that point,” she added.

The teenager, meanwhile, has defended his action, claiming it was an accident.

Responding to one of the negative comment, he said it was a “once in a lifetime to catch a dolphin as bycatch from the shore”.

However, surfing enthusiasts and other social media users slammed the response.

“I was immediately enraged. It’s a crime against nature,” Beaugrand, a surfer, told News4JAX.

Though it is a crime to interfere with wild dolphins, the teen has not been charged with a crime. If prosecuted, he could face penalties up to about $34,000 or criminal fines and up to a year in prison, as per the television channel.

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