Why did the seal cross the road?
That question is one of several that remain unanswered after an early morning rescue of a young female elephant seal that twice was found on Petaluma roadways Sunday, drawing response from police and animal control personnel.
Around 5:40 a.m., Petaluma police responded to reports of a seal spotted along Lakeville Highway near Baywood Drive, headed in the direction of Highway 101, Petaluma Police Lt. Tim Lyons said. The seal was diverted back into nearby waters, he said.
About two hours later, police once again fielded calls that the renegade seal was in the parking lot of the Petaluma Marina, Lyons said.
Petaluma Animal Services Foundation personnel were able to capture the 235-pound elephant seal and transport it in a large dog crate to the Sausalito-based Marine Mammal Center around 10:15 a.m., according to staff veterinarian Cara Field.
The seal, who has since been named “Chumley,” is healthy with no visible injuries, Field said.
“When she arrived yesterday, she was in very good body condition,” Field said. “She’s a young seal, a ‘weaner seal.’ She was born in January … she’s doing well for herself.”
Staff at the center conducted an examination Monday morning and are waiting for the results of a blood test before returning Chumley to her native habitat, she said. The release at a natural seal rookery at Chimney Rock in Point Reyes National Seashore could take place this week, she said.
Since Chumley is so young, Field said she may have taken a wrong turn before winding up in the Petaluma River, where she was seeking a flat place to rest.
Field could not recall any other incidents where wayward seals have been transported to the center from Petaluma waters, but she said it’s “not unheard of” for the creatures to make appearances in unusual places.
“Anytime you have something like a yacht harbor connected to the ocean, sometimes animals get a little curious or they’re catching food and keep swimming and look for a place to haul out,” she said.
A Petaluma Animal Services Foundation officer did not return a request for comment.
Found a seal or a stranded marine mammal?
Call The Marine Mammal Center at (415) 289-7325.