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Wayward dolphin winds up in Southern California wetlands; experts hope it leaves on its own
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) ' A dolphin wandered into a narrow channel in a coastal wetlands on Friday, circling in shallow waters as crowds grew along the banks, TV helicopters flew overhead and marine animal experts considered how to return it to the ocean.
The 7-foot-long, black-and-white common dolphin was spotted in a channel of the Bolsa Chica wetlands. The adult dolphin was swimming in tight circles near a road.
A swimmer and two lifeguards on paddleboards entered the water to test the dolphin's reaction and it would not allow them to approach.
A decision was made to let the healthy, strong and fast dolphin try to find its own way out during a high tide, said Dean Gomersall, animal care supervisor at the nonprofit Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
Trying to capture such a dolphin could be dangerous to the animal and injure rescuers, he said.
"The animal is not sick at all. It's just in the wrong place," Gomersall said.
The experts planned to try to shoo the dolphin out if it was still in the wetlands on Saturday.
"He does need to leave eventually," Gomersall said.
The wetlands is separated from the ocean by a wide beach and Pacific Coast Highway. Sea water flows in from Huntington Harbour on one end and an inlet cut through the beach on the opposite end.
The dolphin, part of a small pod seen in the harbor earlier in the week, entered the channel through a hole in a tidal gate that separates the harbor from the marsh, Gomersall said.
The other five dolphins remained in the harbor and may have to be coaxed back out to sea, Gomersall said.