If you’ve never watched a massive elephant seal cross a California highway, well, today is your lucky day.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s officers teamed up with wildlife authorities to help a young bull elephant seal make his way back to shore.
On Jan. 30, officers arrived to find that the large marine mammal had crossed a highway and was headed in the opposite direction of the ocean.
The deputies called for help from the California Fish and Wildlife authorities and the Marine Mammal Center experts.
Together, the group of officials worked to coax the massive bull back across the highway and toward the shoreline.
“Deputies deal with incidents like this quite often, but it usually involves a cow or some other four-legged animal,” spokesman Tony Cipolla told the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
Officials had to close down part of the highway to protect the seal as he found his bearings.
The video shows the massive seal bounding his way across the highway as officials worked to herd him in the right direction.
Staff from the Marine Mammal Center speculated that the young male seal had likely lost a battle on the beach with an older bull when he fled onto the highway.
While elephant seals spend most of their time in the open ocean, they come ashore every winter for birthing and mating.
As female seals arrive along the California coast to birth their pups in December and January, the male seals follow along, fighting for dominance on the beaches.
Adult males can weigh between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds, according to Friends of the Elephant Seal.
While many viewers have found the video to be comical in nature, coming in contact with an emotionally charged adolescent elephant seal would likely not be a laughing matter.
Cipolla urges people not to get involved with stranded seals they might spot along California highways.
The best practice would be to report the sighting to the sheriff’s office so that deputies can get right to work closing roads to protect the animal (and humans) from getting hit.
“You never know what your day will look like when you put on your uniform,” San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook.
Just another day in the life of a deputy, protecting even the largest of creatures.
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