Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Elephant sea coaxed back into water after being stopped from repeatedly trying to cross the road

An unusual traffic hazard along Highway 37 in Sonoma County, California, on Monday had officers from the California Highway Patrol and researchers from the Marine Mammal Center playing a game of chicken with a 500 pound wayward elephant seal. "This is, I think, the fourth time she's come out of water and tried to cross the median on Highway 37," said Barbie Halaska of the Marine Mammal Centre.

YouTube link.

"So we're really afraid that when it gets darker later on she might become a big speedbump." The seal, believed to be female and possibly pregnant, was first spotted at around 1:00pm near the intersection of Highways 37 and 121. "That wall, the centre divide wall right here," CHP Officer Andrew Barclay said pointing to concrete barrier where the seal was first seen trying to make her escape. "We quickly realised 500 pounds of elephant seal is not going to be easy to move!"

YouTube link.

With the guidance of researchers at the Marine Mammal Center, they used boards to coral the seal back towards the water. "That's where she grabbed the board with her very large powerful mouth," Officer Barclay said pointing to a gouge in a board. "She could actually tear the board from your hands if you don't hold it the proper way," explained Halaska. Several times the seal was ushered back to the water, only to make a run for the highway again.

YouTube link.

It kept marine mammal experts and the CHP busy until sunset. "We're waiting to see if she comes back out onto the road," Halaska said. "If she comes back out onto the road, we're hoping to be able to put her into a carrier to take her to a different location." Elephant seals tend to stay on the ocean side of the Bay. Marine mammal experts don't know how this one got so lost. Those monitoring the seal left at sunset, saying the low tide would make it too difficult for her to get out of the water.


Ange said...

I wonder why she kept wanting to cross the road though,

Ratz said...

She's just following the big arrow.

Barbwire said...

This is a huge problem in California. Usually it's sea lions, but also seals coming ashore because they're starving because of El NiƱo. As the Earth warms, more and more ocean life is going to be seriously endangered.