A greedy dolphin has become an unwitting star in California, USA after it chased its dinner into Orange County’s shallow Bolsa Chica wetlands and got stuck.
Crowds of people, including motorists from a nearby busy highway, gathered to watch the 700-pound animal after it was spotted in the enclosure, 30 miles south east of Los Angeles, at midday Friday.
Marine mammal experts say the black-and-white common dolphin was chasing fish when it entered the narrow channel through a hole in a tidal gate that separates the harbor from the marsh.
The dolphin had been seen with a small pod in the harbor earlier in the week but the other five dolphins did not enter the wetlands.
A swimmer and two lifeguards on paddle boards entered the water to test the condition of the dolphin, which had been swimming erratically and in small circles.
Peter Wallerstein of the group Marine Animal Rescue told NBC Los Angeles that he and other dolphin experts would be monitoring the animal’s situation today.
He warned the crowds to stay away from the dolphin so as to reduce any stress on the animal.
“We just want people to be smart,” Wallerstein said. “If they go and observe, be quiet and don’t get involved or get in the water.”
If the dolphin can’t manage to free itself rescuers will approach it in kayaks and on paddle boards, attempting to nudge it in the right direction, California Department of Fish and Game reserve manager Kelly O’Reilly told Reuters.
They may try to put the 7-foot-long dolphin in a harness and move it into deeper water but officials believe this could be harmful to the animal and rescuers.
“It could smack us and break our ribs, or knock out our teeth or something,” O’Reilly said.
“Far better for the animal and us if we just give it some space, back off and as the water gets deeper, hopefully it will figure out how to get out of here.’
The wetlands are separated from the ocean by a wide beach and Pacific Coast Highway. Sea water flows in from Huntington Harbor on one end and an inlet cut through the beach on the opposite end.
The dolphin will have to swim more than 3 miles to get to open water because the path it took to get into the wetlands is not a direct route to the ocean.