Environment

Watch SLO County Sheriff’s deputies help lone elephant seal ‘find his way home’

Why did the elephant seal cross the road?

Apparently to become Facebook famous.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office deputies were surprised on duty on Wednesday when they came across a young bull elephant seal on the opposite side of Highway 1 from where his fellow seals were lounging near San Simeon.

According to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla, the deputies called California Fish and Wildlife and the Marine Mammal Center to help return the lone seal back to the beach.

After blocking off the road, deputies and Fish and Wildlife officers tried to entice the massive animal from the his hilltop perch by waving red inflatable paddles and directing it down to the road.

“Deputies deal with incidents like this quite often, but it usually involves a cow or some other four-legged animal,” Cipolla said.

Once down from the hill, the seal was ushered across the highway and across a fence, safely emerging on the other side and rejoining the rest of the seals.

Cipolla said Marine Mammal Center representatives believe the young male seal had lost a battle on the beach with an older bull and headed up across the road before getting lost.

The Sheriff’s Office shared a video of the entire ordeal to its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon with the caption: “You never know what your day will look like when you put on your uniform. Today it was one of our local elephant seals that needed help finding his way home!”

Within an hour, the video had more than 15,000 views and 470 reactions — and that number just kept climbing Wednesday evening.

“Bet that’s not in any job description,” commented one Facebook user. “Good job!”

“Try to handcuff those guys,” another joked.

Cipolla said if people come across another stranded seal, they should contact the Sheriff’s Office right away so deputies can close off the roadway and protect the animal from getting hit. Authorities will then work to return the seal to where it belongs.

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.
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