Sometimes curious marine animals wander a little too far from the ocean, getting lost on land and needing some human help to get back home.
That was the case recently, after one sea lion ended up in a very unexpected place: a California freeway, miles away from the shore.
According to NBC San Diego, the 200-pound sea lion made quite a scene on California’s State Route 94, near San Diego’s Fairmount Park.
“[We received] several calls putting out that the animal was trying to cross the road,” California Highway Patrol public information officer Salvador Castro told NBC. “By the time we got to the location, he was in the center median of the 94 east, west of the 805.”
It was miles from the ocean, so the sight of the sea lion in the middle of the freeway came as quite a surprise to drivers.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” bystander Josefine Jandinger, who recorded a video of the scene, told KGTV. “It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”
While the sight of the sea lion surprised her, she was also moved to see two bystanders stepping up to protect the animal from traffic. “I see the two amazing humans, stopping traffic … Trying to save seal, trying to have the seal walk to the other side of road,” Josefine said.
The bystanders successfully kept the cars from hitting the sea lion, in time for a team of rescuers to come get him off the freeway.
Members of the SeaWorld San Diego rescue team worked with California Highway Patrol to capture the animal and bring him to safety.
Eric Otjen, head of the rescue team, told KGTV that it was a “pretty unique situation” and a “pretty cool rescue,” but also said it was a delicate situation for the sea lion: “This is probably the most dangerous situation one has been in, at least in a long time,” he said. “They are very nimble. Sometimes curiosity gets the best of them and maybe that’s what happened with this guy.”
After catching him in a net, they secured him into a cage and brought him to their facility. Video shows him swimming around in their pool, seemingly content and unharmed from his adventure.
It isn’t clear when the sea lion will be released back into the wild, nor is it clear how he ended up so far from the sea in the first place.
But maybe the most surprising part of this whole thing is that this isn’t even the first time he’s gotten himself into a situation like this: the SeaWorld rescue team saved this same sea lion from a street just a few months ago.
“We don’t know exactly how he got here but this animal has been in our rescue facility before,” Eric Ojten told NBC San Diego. “He was rescued in early November from Harbor Island Drive and was released shortly after and has been showing up in kind of odd situations and spots since then.”
“This is the weirdest, though.”
It’s clear that this sea lion is quite curious about the human world, but hopefully he stays out of trouble on his adventures for now on — we’d hate to see this beautiful animal hit by a car.
Thank you to the bystanders who made sure this sea lion stayed safe, and the rescue team who got him to safety.
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