The quad of images are accompanied by the caption: “Keep reposting until we can ID these idiots who killed this poor dolphin. Call the police if you know who these people are. They are animal killers!! Let’s ID them and send them to prison. Keep reposting.”
The pictures have been shared hundreds of thousands of times but in the absence of any further information, we’ve delved a little deeper to try and bring you more of the story.
These disturbing images are going viral once again
We’ve traced the images back to a Reddit post last year, which claimed the dolphin died shortly after the incident.
Amid debate over this unconfirmed source, one user raises the point: “For a dolphin to just let someone pick it up like that is strange. They are very strong so I’m assuming it was nearly dead or already dead when the pictures were taken.”
Another states: “Dolphins breath air like humans do, however the weight of their own bodies can crush them on land. They’re built to be suspended in water. Dolphins may survive longer than larger cetaceans, however.
“The dolphin in the picture could have already been weakened or ill when it beached, or the beaching could have weakened it. Holding it the way they did and sitting on it certainly didn’t help matters.”
In 2013 there was uproar when a group of Chinese bathers posed with a dolphin which later died
Various sources identify the incident as occurring in Lima, Peru and indeed several (now defunct) petitions were circulated around the time the images emerged calling for the identification and prosecution of the pair – which one publication names as ‘Judith and Dick’.
"Dolphins are highly intelligent, sensitive, and self-aware animals, and it is never acceptable to treat them as mere play things. They live in tight family units with bonds that may last a lifetime, and these tourists' actions may have caused the dolphins' death, likely leaving a grieving family behind."
It’s not the first time images of this nature have shocked and dismayed the world.
Images showed the men manhandling the creature, which was washed ashore on a beach in the southern Chinese province of Hainan.
A report in the Shanghai Daily stated it died from “excessive bleeding”, perhaps after earlier colliding with a fishing boat.
The images prompted outrage, particularly after it was noted that instead of helping the injured mammal, the bathers simply posed with it for pictures.