The 7-foot dolphin wandered into the Bolsa Chica wetlands Friday, drawing crowds of curious onlookers and even slowing traffic on the bustling Pacific Coast Highway.
The crowds quickly dubbed the dolphin Fred and watched as wildlife officials decided to wait and see if it would find its own way out to sea.
"Ninety nine percent of the time, they get out by themselves," expert Peter Wallerstein told the Orange County Register. "If not, we'll get more aggressive. But we're going to wait and see."
Fred seemed to be in good health and belonged to a pod of dolphins seen hanging around Friday off the mouth of Bolsa Chica. It was speculated Fred went after some fish and got lost in the murky lagoon.
The Los Angeles Times said the delighted human spectators, including helicopter news crews, might have spooked Fred somewhat and prevented him from finding his way out to sea.