Dolphin trapped in Long Beach Harbor construction site
Rescuers are at a Long Beach Harbor construction site, trying to guide a wayward dolphin out to sea, officials said Tuesday afternoon.
The dolphin is confined to a space about the size of a swimming pool by vertical walls from an old wharf, said Port of Long Beach spokesman Lee Peterson. Officials believe the animal — which was first spotted by a construction inspector Monday morning — followed some fish into the redevelopment site during high tide.
Port officials contacted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations’s marine fisheries service, which brought in the El Segundo-based Marine Animal Rescue to help coordinate response efforts. They waited to see if the dolphin would find its way out on its own, but when the animal was still swimming in the harbor Tuesday, they decided to take action.
Divers are cutting away part of the metal walls, Peterson said, hoping that will make it easier for the dolphin to swim over the top during Tuesday night’s high tide.
“They’re going to remove some of that wall so when the tide comes up and everybody goes away, the dolphin could very easily leave,” Peterson said.
Peter Wallerstein, director of Marine Animal Rescue, said the “very young” dolphin appeared to be in good shape, which is why they were hopeful it would leave on its own accord.
“It’s showing all normal behavior, nice and healthy,” Wallerstein said. “That’s why we’re not going to extremes.”
If the dolphin sticks around for another night, however, Peterson said officials would reassess the situation.
“It’s not a place where he’s going to want to stay a long time,” Peterson said.
It’s the second disoriented dolphin spotted in Southern California in recent weeks. Marine experts and curious onlookers spent about two weeks monitoring a 7-foot common dolphin in the Bolsa Chica wetlands of Huntington Beach. On Monday, NOAA biologists said they believed that that dolphin had returned to sea.
— Kate Mather