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Dolphin freed from Long Beach Harbor construction site

May 9, 2012 |  7:20 am

Dolphin rescued

Hours of work by rescuers at a Long Beach Harbor construction site paid off early Wednesday when a wayward dolphin managed to swim back to sea unharmed, authorities said.

The dolphin had been 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.

When the animal continued swimming in the harbor Tuesday, officials sent divers to cut away part of the metal walls, hoping it would make it easier for the dolphin to swim over the top during the night’s high tide.

That’s basically what happened sometime after midnight, said Peter Wallerstein, director of Marine Animal Rescue in El Segundo. He said the dolphin probably swam through the “access” holes cut by the divers.

“The dolphin is gone,” Wallerstein  said Wednesday morning. “The work that we did yesterday paid off.... He swam out himself.”

Wallerstein said “everything was perfect” with the dolphin, describing him as  “young, strong and healthy.”

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 dolphin had returned to sea. Wallerstein said the dolphins probably were chasing sardines.

“It’s not rare that dolphins come into harbors, but it is rare that they get stuck in these unique situations,” he said.


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Photo: A wayward dolphin found its way out from a Long Beach Harbor construction site after crews cut away metal walls that would allow it to swim away. Credit: KTLA News