Wildlife experts and law enforcement officials worked Monday to keep a determined elephant seal off a Northern California highway that it has repeatedly tried to cross, snarling traffic in the area. California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Andrew Barclay says callers first reported the 500-pound mammal was trying to climb the divider wall of Highway 37 near Sears Point in Sonoma. He says US Fish and Wildlife Service crews and CHP officers managed to usher the adult seal back into the San Francisco Bay. But instead of swimming away, the animal got back on land at least twice.
"Every time we got her in the water, she circled back and tried to climb out again," Barclay says. Most of those trying to help the seal left the area Monday evening after she got back in the water and the tide got lower, decreasing her chances of reaching land. Barclay says CHP personnel will patrol the area overnight in case the mammal again attempts to reach land. Crews with the Sausalito-based Marine Mammal Center and the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge also helped with the rescue. A Marine Mammal Center spokeswoman says that the seal doesn't seem injured and that she probably got lost and confused after swimming up the wrong waterway. (Read more elephant seals stories.)