As marine mammal experts called off the day's rescue effort, a stranded dolphin remained in a wetlands area Friday evening just off Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach.
Other dolphins had escaped the wetlands earlier this week, but the lone dolphin was unable to leave the area near Warner Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway, according to the Marine Mammal Center. Aerial video showed the dolphin swimming in a circular pattern in shallow water.
Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue noted that it was unusual for a dolphin to be so far from the ocean, "especially at a dead end."
"The erratic swimming might be due to the stress of the situation," Wallerstein said. "I don't see anything wrong with the dolphin at this point, except for being in a bad location."
Rescuers said Friday afternoon that they would back off their efforts to help the dolphin, hoping it will get back to the ocean with the incoming high tide. The dolphin has plenty of fish to eat in the area where it's stranded, they said.
"We decided it's a healthy, adult animal, and it's not needed for us to intervene right now,'' Wallerstein said. "We're going to back off and wait for the tide to come in the morning."
If the tide does not help the dolphin get back out to the ocean, the alternate plan is for rescue workers to get back into the water and try to either guide the dolphin out or trap it and put it back into deeper waters, Wallerstein said.
A large crowd gathered at the top of an embankment off PCH during the day Friday, causing authorities to ask onlookers to avoid the area so as not to distress the animal. The dolphin was swimming in circles and displaying other signs of disorientation.
It wasn't clear how the dolphin ended up in the wetlands, though several narrow channels lead to the lagoon. The other dolphins -- about seven -- had been in a nearby marina.