All's Well That Ends Well for Highway 37 Elephant Seal (Video)

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An elephant seal that tried to cross Highway 37 in Sonoma County peeks up while swimming in an inlet. (California Highway Patrol)

Update, 8:50 a.m. Wednesday: Using a kayak to get the seal to move its 900 pounds where rescuers wanted it to go didn't work. Thus, Plan B: sedation and transportation to Point Reyes, where presumably an elephant seal can make a happier home than on the side of the highway.

Veterinarians from the Marine Mammal Center confirmed that the elephant seal is healthy, and also that she is pregnant, as had been speculated.

Original post

Boy, did our Twitter feed ever blow up today with news about that Highway 37 elephant seal.

To catch you all up, the elephant seal caused a traffic jam yesterday at Highway 37 near Tolay Creek in Sonoma County, when she repeatedly tried to cross the two-lane expressway and climb over the center divider. Motorists who stopped and tried to help reported that she attacked their vehicles, the California Highway Patrol said.


Wildlife officials were able to steer her back into an inlet, but rescuers from the Marine Mammal Center want to coax her out to the open water of San Pablo Bay. But the center said this afternoon that "multiple attempts" by its rescue team this morning failed to do just that. Personnel will make another go of it this afternoon.

Giancarlo Rulli of the Marine Mammal Center says staff are using a kayak to try to direct the seal, which is currently resting in the inlet's mudflats. (For photos of the standoff in the muck, check out SFGate.) The center's employees are taking breaks, he said, so that  the animal, which appears to be healthy, doesn't expend too much energy.

Rulli said a lot of female elephant seals flock to San Simeon in December and January to give birth. It's unknown if the seal in Sonoma County is pregnant, he said.

"It probably just took a wrong turn and made its way into the bay. It’s not a common area for us to do rescues,  especially for elephant seals."

Bay City News contributed to this post.