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Pregnant Elephant Seal Relocated Then Relocated Again

California Highway Patrol / AP

Wildlife experts from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito attempt to corral an elephant seal that repeatedly tried to cross a highway, slowing traffic in Sonoma, Calif., Monday, Dec. 28, 2015

California Highway Patrol / AP

Dec 30, 2015, 5:47 p.m.

Veterinarians from The Marine Mammal Center have successfully relocated the pregnant elephant seal named “Tolay” after two days of attempts to move her away from Highway 37 in Sonoma County and out of Tolay Creek.

The seal was relocated to Point Reyes National Seashore last night.

But, Tolay had other ideas and moved on today to the established elephant seal colony at Drake’s Beach.

The mammal center says that was a good choice as it is one of the main breeding colonies.

Tolay blocked Highway 37 Monday as people stopped their cars as she tried to cross.

1. Tolay _Fish Dock _12.30.15_ NPS Photo , Sarah Codde , NMFS Permit No . 17152-00

"Tolay" the elephant seal pictured at her initial release location at Point Reyes National Seashore. Marine Mammal Center

Dec 29 4:42 p.m. - Officials tranquilized the 900-pound female elephant seal swimming in Tolay Creek in Sonoma County. Workers are in the process of relocating the animal to Point Reyes National Seashore.

The seal caused a traffic mess on Highway 37 as it attempted to cross the road Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, the seal was still swimming in the area and workers in a kayak tried to coax it toward the open water. But the animal refused to go. 

Laura Sherr, a spokesperson with the Marine Mammal Center says the seal eventually swam under the roadway and climbed out of the water Tuesday afternoon, giving workers the opportunity to sedate it.

Sherr says it's still unclear how and why the animal ended up in the area. Sherr says center veterinarians took blood samples and performed an ultrasound, which confirmed that the seal is pregnant.

"[Elephant seals] are naturally stubborn animals, she's pregnant and she just didn't want to leave," says Sherr.

Experts at the center say elephant seals return to beaches along central California during the winter months to mate and give birth. 

-Capital Public Radio Staff

ElephantSeal122915pm P.jpg

California Highway Patrol / Courtesy


3 p.m. (AP) - A wayward elephant seal in Sonoma County is still swimming in an area near a highway and apparently looking for another chance to cross the road.

The Marine Mammal Center launched a rescue worker in a kayak Tuesday morning and used bullhorns to yell at the seal in an attempt to scare it back into open water. The plan failed. 

Workers at the center are now evaluating options to relocated the animal, which weighs about 900 pounds.  One plan would be to haul the seal away from Tolay Creek along Highway 37 and relocate it to another location. 

According to the Center, it's unclear how the seal ended up at the location. Workers are also taking into account the possibility that the seal is pregnant. In a statement released this afternoon, the center says elephant seals return to beaches along central Calfiornia during the winter months to mate and give birth. 

Another rescue and relocation attempt is planned for Tuesday afternoon. 

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that wildlife experts and law enforcement officials on Monday worked to keep the determined elephant seal off a Sonoma County highway that it has repeatedly tried to cross, snarling traffic in the area.

The California Highway Patrol warned the two-lane highway could be shut down if the portly pinniped tried to charge across the thoroughfare again.

On Monday afternoon, the mammal center dispatched a rescue team, as did the San Pablo Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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