A relentless 500-pound elephant seal was not about to give up on trying to cross a California highway and spent hours making her intentions known. The huge elephant seal tied up traffic for about a mile in both directions on a Sonoma County highway on Monday afternoon. Wildlife experts and law enforcement officers worked for a good part of the day and evening trying to keep the elephant seal from crossing the two-lane highway, but she was determined to do so, no matter what distraction came her way.
According to Inside Bay Area News on December 29, the elephant seal continued trying to get across Highway 37 and each time she snarled up traffic. California Highway Patrol warned that if that pudgy elephant seal decided to charge the highway again, they may have to shut the road down to traffic in both directions.
Wildlife and law enforcement crews ushered the elephant seal back into the water, but it kept emerging wanting to get across that highway. California Highway Patrol spokesperson Officer Andrew Barclay said the first calls they got about this 500-pound elephant seal indicated that she was attempting to climb the divider wall of Highway 37 near Sears Point in Sonoma, according to UPI News today.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crews and CHP officers managed to coax this huge seal back into the San Francisco Bay, but not for very long, as the seal got right back on land. “Every time we got her in the water, she circled back and tried to climb out again,” he said.
Barclay said the seal moved towards the group who was trying to herd her into the water and she was aggressive about getting by and onto the highway. At one point the seal took a gash out of the wooden board Barclay was holding. The job got a bit messy when the elephant seal flung saliva into his face. He also said that the elephant seal had “a lot of weight behind her and a lot of muscle.”
Barclay indicated that it was hard for the people trying to rescue her to stand their ground saying, “she was moving us pretty easily, a lot of force.” He continued saying,”What we’ve seen is she’s obviously still trying to get out of the water. She’s very adamant she’s going to cross this stretch of roadway.”
The elephant seal seemed to realize that she wasn’t getting across the roadway and stopped her ill-fated attempts at a crossing about 11 p.m. Monday. New reports indicate she was back trying to cross the road again on Tuesday morning.
Seal experts believe this female may have had a good reason for her relentless attempts at getting across that highway and to a field on the other side. She may have been trying to get to the field to give birth. “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,” said Marine Mammal Center expert Barbie Halaska.