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Unusual behavior by lone dolphin worries passersby at the Santa Barbara Harbor

The behavior of a common dolphin is worrying passersby at the Santa Barbara harbor.
Dolphin Santa Barbara
Chris Escobar / KEYT NewsChannel 3
The unusual behavior of a common dolphin is worrying passersby at the Santa Barbara harbor.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A common dolphin in the Santa Barbara harbor for more than a week has passersby worried.

The dolphin has been swimming in circles in an area near the breakwater wall and docked boats.

It's also an area where small vessels, such as kayaks, maneuver by the harbor slips and to the harbor entrance.

Marine mammal experts have been alerted but say they can only monitor the dolphin at this time and will not try to intervene.

It was first spotted in late November.

What's not known is if the dolphin is leaving the harbor at night and returning during the day.

The California Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Long Beach has been on standby if the situation worsens. Coordinator Justin Viezbike says these dolphin do not handle stress well and he urges the public not to do anything to get near the area.

Already some kayakers have been cruising through which could be a violation according to NOAA Fisheries.

Federal law requires the public to remain at least 100 yards from whales and at least 50 yards away from dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions.

If the dolphin has to be transported, Viezbike says the closest site to treat it and provide rehabilitation will be Sea World in San Diego. That's about five hours from Santa Barbara.

He also says trying to capture the dolphin would require a special team, a net system and multiple boats. All that could also cause stress on the vulnerable animal.

Several members of the public have called the Channel Islands Marine & Mammal Institute in Santa Barbara County, an agency that often response to marine life in distress.

Marine wildlife experts say it is possible the dolphin is suffering from neurological impacts after contracting domoic acid through the ocean food chain, which often occurs this time of year. It is not likely it can be tested while in the water, but marine officials are monitoring the dolphin's weight.

Common dolphins rarely swim alone which makes this behavior even more uncommon, experts said.

Article Topic Follows: Animals

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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