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Why did the elephant seal cross the road? (…or attempt to cross it?)

Elephant Seals

Eleph-I-Know!

Full Definition of truculent

  1. feeling or displaying ferocity :  cruelsavage

  2.  deadlydestructive

  3. scathingly harsh :  vitriolic <truculent criticism>

  4. aggressively self-assertive :  belligerent

SFGate.com says that:

Wildlife experts and California Highway Patrol officers teamed up for an unusual rescue in the North Bay on Monday afternoon after a truculent <emphasis mine> elephant seal tried to cross a highway and resisted efforts to direct it back into the water, officials said.

Just after 1 p.m., the CHP got calls reporting that a seal was blocking the slow lane of Highway 37 near Sears Point in Sonoma County, officials said.

A few minutes later a caller told the CHP that the seal was attacking a vehicle, though that report could not be confirmed. At one point a number of passing motorists stopped to take pictures of the seal, further complicating traffic matters on the busy two-lane highway.

The Marine Mammal Center, based in Sausalito, dispatched a rescue team, as did the San Pablo Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The CHP was also working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to persuade the seal to swim off to greener pastures.

Highway 37, a low, flat, often fog-obscured two-lane road is perhaps best know for its head-on collisions. Today, it became known for a VERY determined elephant seal! At one point, officials led the seal into the bay, but he decided, again, to attempt to cross the road!

“He’s back in the water now, “ Barclay <CHP Officer Andrew Barclay> said later. “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.”

As of about 5 p.m., the seal had yet to swim away, and officials said the animal, which did not appear to be injured, was circling closer and closer to the freeway. A team of Marine Mammal Center staffers were hiding nearby with a crate at the ready.

Although CHP personnel were planning to leave the scene, Barclay said they would be on standby for the evening. He added that because the tide was getting lower, the seal’s ability to leave the water was decreasing.

Officer Barclay said the motives for the elephant seal attempting to cross the highway were not clear.

(Note added December 29, 2015: The elephant seal turned out to be a pregnant 900-pound FEMALE. I wondered from the photographs. She was sedated and is likely already delivered to the Point Reyes National Seashore!)

-Bill at

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