Seal On Highway: 900 Pound Elephant Seal Causes Traffic Jam On California Highway 37

An unusual incident took place on Monday on a major highway in northern California, as what is being referred to as a “stubborn” elephant seal made repeated attempts to cross the road.

The The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) based in Sausalito, California, and California Highway Patrol officers teamed up in an effort to divert the seal back to the water, but it was determined to get across the highway. Officials said the CHP first got the call about the seal crawling across Highway 37 near Sears Point, in Sonoma County, at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Monday, December 28. Laura Sherr, a public relations specialist for TMMC, said the seal, which weighed an estimated 500 to 1,300 pounds, kept returning to the highway no matter how many times the TMMC and CHP attempted to get her into the water.

“What we’ve seen is she’s obviously still trying to get out of the water,” CHP Officer Andrew Barclay said, according to ABC 7 News. “She’s very adamant she’s going to cross this stretch of roadway.”

Barclay added that the elephant seal had “a lot of weight behind her and a lot of muscle. So she was moving us pretty easily, a lot of force.” Marine mammal experts believed the seal was attempting to get to the dry land across the highway so she could give birth. Barbie Halaska from the Marine Mammal Center said: “If she is about to give birth that means she is in her prime. So she’s got a lot of weight, she’s got a lot of strength on her, she could tear the board away from your hands if you don’t hold it the proper way.”

The team was successfully able to usher the large seal into the bay at one point, but she was still determined on making her way across the highway, making their efforts seem worthless. Barclay said that “he’s back in the water now. But he seems very committed to crossing the roadway. Every time we get him in the water he waits until we walk away and he’s right back up on land.”

The team called off their efforts late Monday night, due to nightfall, after the seal went back into the San Pablo Bay when the tide lowered. The CHP said units would be returning to the area to ensure the seal is okay after its adventurous day.

On Tuesday, at approximately 2:30 p.m., the seal made her way back to land, and was met by Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, who then tranquilized her. The seal was then transported to a waiting truck and was driven to the Point Reyes National Seashore, where she was to be released on Tuesday at Chimney Rock, according to the SF Gate.

Luckily, the seal appeared to be very healthy and will be able to give birth to her pups with ease. Haaska said: “She’s a beautiful animal who appears to be in perfect health.”

[Photo via Twitter]