Police were forced to protect a dying seal on a beach as crowds hurled stones at it in its final moments.
The seal died on a beach in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk just hours after officers attended the scene to guard it on Tuesday.
Some people were spotted throwing stones at the grey seal, while parents were seen taking pictures of their children alongside the dying mammal.
Dan Goldsmith, chairman of Marine and Wildlife Rescue, said: 'It's absolutely exacerbating.
'People were picking up stones and throwing them at the seal. Whether that was to get it to move I don't know.
'Police were constantly needing to tell people to move back - they were getting within a foot of the seal.
'People don't appreciate that it should be left to rest.
'They just want to get photos and put their children there to get pictures with it.
The seal died on Great Yarmouth Beach, Norfolk just hours after officers attended the scene to guard it on Tuesday
'At around 4.30pm the seal took itself back to the water's edge and was taken by the tide - it may well have died.'
An RSPCA spokesperson said that the charity was 'shocked' to hear reports of people throwing stones at the seal.
They added: 'It's really important that members of the public stay away from the seal as getting close is likely to cause this very poorly animal a lot of distress.
'We know that seals in the wild are an incredible sight to see, but people must remember that these are wild animals.
'We share our beaches with seals and have to learn to respect nature and enjoy from a distance, and never interfere or get too close to them.'