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Recently I observed several dolphins in the shallow coastal waters in Santa Barbara. They seemed to linger on the surface for quite sometime. They were close to the kelp beds so I'm not sure if they were feeding or just hanging out. Can you describe what these dolphins might typically be doing so close to the shore? Do they migrate at all or are they fairly territorial?

Wildlife Expert - Ken Burton

Migratory and territorial are hardly exclusive. Many animals maintain a breeding territory, then migrate and establish a winter territory. They may even defend ephemeral territories along the way. However, dolphins are highly social and not at all territorial. Most nearshore dolphin sightings are of the Bottle-nosed Dolphin. This species spends a lot of time on the surface just outside the breakers, feeding opportunistically but also doing a fair bit of "just hanging out," as you put it. It does not migrate to any significant degree.

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Bottle-nosed Dolphin
Tursiops truncatus

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