Motherly determination

Elephant seal Tolay with her pupMy favorite news story of the last few weeks has been the story of Tolay, the elephant seal Mom-to-be who shut down Highway 37 in Sonoma just north of San Francisco in a two-day standoff. Just a few days before New Year’s, Tolay (as she was named) waddled out of San Pablo Bay from Tolay Creek in Sonoma and started to make her way across the highway. Well, when a 900 lb seal tries to cross the road, traffic grinds to a halt. And this seal was very determined to cross that highway, backing down the highway traffic for miles. Eventually, highway patrol called the wildlife rescue workers from the Marin Marine Mammal Center to the scene and they tried repeatedly to coax her back to the bay. They pulled out all the tricks. They tried using boards to scoot her along the path back to the water  and she took a bite out the rescue workers board! At one point they managed to get her back into the water and tried to coax her to swim back out by nudging her from a kayak but she was undeterred and persistent and turned around and tried to cross the road again, and again and again. This seal was determined to get where she needed to go! Puzzled by her stubborn persistence to get to the other side, the rescue workers speculated that she might be pregnant and getting ready to give birth. Coincidentally, I happened to be visiting the Marin Marine Mammal Center  with a friend, the day the standoff started so we heard about it first hand from the rescue workers there. By this time she was a local celebrity, with a constant stream of news alerts and twitter updates and I found myself frequently checking in online to follow the fate of Tolay.  You go girl! Eventually after a two-day standoff, lots of drama and all-out efforts to coax her back to the water, she was gently tranquilized, hoisted into a truck and transported to an elephant seal rookery in nearby Point Reyes National Seashore. The rescue workers did some blood tests after she was tranquilized and yes, indeed, she was expecting. And then just after New Year’s we heard the happy news that she had given birth to a pup! What a great story for the new year! Never doubt the power of motherly determination and will! Good luck to you and your pup, Tolay!

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