Porpoise Dies After Beachgoers Allegedly Capture, Hug and Pet It

A porpoise has died after a group of beachgoers in Germany allegedly caught it and invited a group of almost two dozen children to hug and pet it, according to officials.

Witnesses told a marine mammals officer on Friday, July 9, that a number of adults surrounded and captured the animal to keep it on the surface of the water, according to a joint statement by Lübeck public prosecutor's office and the Lübeck police department. The incident occurred in the bathing area of the Grömitz municipality on the Baltic coast, northern Germany.

The adults allegedly held the porpoise in place and called over 20 children to the water, who were said to have held, hugged and petted it.

Witnesses said the porpoise seemed fine at first, before becoming weak and dying.

Ulla Hingst, press spokeswoman for the Lübeck public prosecutor's office, told Newsweek the on-duty lifeguard informed the marine mammals officer about the incident. The animal was dead when the officer arrived at the scene and the people were gone.

The porpoise was removed from the area and given to Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research in the town of Büsum.

The examiner could not rule out that the porpoise had died because of the contact it had with humans. A dissection also revealed it had heartworms and lungworms.

Lübeck public prosecutor's office and the Lübeck police department said in its statement, which has been translated: "So-called zoonoses cannot be ruled out. These are infectious diseases that are caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other parasites and can be mutually transmitted between animals and humans."

Officials have launched an investigation into a potential criminal offense under the Federal Nature Conservation Act, which makes it illegal to catch, injury or kill wild animals. Those found guilty can face up to five years in prison or a fine.

Witnesses are asked to email fehmarn.wspst@polizei.landsh.de with information.
The incident is the latest example of humans disturbing wildlife. In 2017, a baby dolphin died in Spain after people touched and photographed it.

And in July 2021, a Louisiana couple apologized after one of them was filmed touching a monk seal in Hawaii.

"We're deeply sorry," the husband, who has only been identified as Stephen, said Monday in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "We love Hawaii and the culture. We didn't mean to offend anyone. We respect the ­culture."

porpoise germany
A photo provided by officials shows a child holding the porpoise in Germany. Lübeck public prosecutor's office / Lübeck police department