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Lone dolphin stranded in California wetlands may be victim of bullying

Wildlife experts believe that dolphin, which has been stranded in the Bolsa Chica wetlands for five days, knows how to leave but is choosing to stay.
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Bottlenose dolphins swim ahead of the bow of a boat off the southern California coast near Dana Point, California. (David McNew/AFP/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — A lone dolphin that has been stranded in Southern California's Bolsa Chica wetlands may be hiding out from bullies, wildlife experts said Monday, NBC Los Angeles reported

Rescue officials witnessed a confrontation between the animal and other dolphins believed to be a member of its pod as they tried to usher the dolphin back out into the Pacific Ocean, according to the International Business Times

"We were able to get [the dolphin] to swim into open water Saturday," Peter Wallerstein, an expert with the nonprofit group Marine Animal Rescue, told the IBT. "It was about 100 yards into the harbor and swimming calmly when it was attacked by a couple of very aggressive dolphins. It was quite eye-opening to see that kind of aggression."

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The dolphin has been stranded in the wetlands since last Thursday, and wildlife experts have been monitoring the creature, avoiding another attempt to prod it back out into the ocean unless they see its' health deteriorate, NBC News reported. 

Though bullying does not line up with humans' usual views of dolphins, Wallerstein told reporters that it is not as uncommon as one would think. 

"Dolphins can be very aggressive toward each other," Wallerstein said, msnbc.com reported. "They’re not the sweet, loving, gentle animals portrayed by the movies and the cartoons. They do have a dark side.”

Crowds that have gathered to observe the rescue attempts have been trying name the dolphin, though its sex is unknown, msnbc.com reported. "Fred" and "Bolsa Chica Bob" are both in the running, according to msnbc.com. 

Marine Animal Rescue, based in El Segundo, California, has helped save 92 marine animals so far this year, Wallerstein told the Los Angeles Times. Most of their rescues have involved seals and sea lions.

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