This past Friday, we San Diegans had a visitor.
Lots of visitors come to San Diego, but this one made the front page of Saturday’s San Diego Union-Tribune (above image).
And not just the front page – it was the big story on the front page.
And frankly, it was a welcome respite from all the big-story-front-page bad news about COVID. Yes, there was a COVID story on the front page, but it was relegated to the right column.
According to the Union-Tribune…
…and other sources, on Friday morning around 9:40am, a sea lion was spotted at State Route 94 and State Route 15, as shown on this map:
The sea lion was three miles from San Diego Bay and about eight miles from the ocean.
Apparently, it was trying to cross State Route 94 – a four-lane freeway – and heading for the center divider.
Drivers pulled over and got out of their cars to stop traffic and allow the sea lion to cross safely:
Which I have mixed feelings about.
One the one hand, those motorists standing on the freeway probably saved human lives. The sea lion weighed 200 pounds, and if a vehicle had hit it, it’s terrible to think of what might have happened to the passengers in that vehicle. And if that vehicle hit other vehicles…
On the other hand, for those motorists to get out of their cars and walk onto a freeway…
Perhaps San Diego should install a sign:
Well, I’ll leave that for wiser heads than mine.
The freeway image appears to have come from this video, shot by a passenger in a stopped car:
You can hear her saying, “A seal on the freeway – what the hell?”
I would have said the same.
It’s only because the animal was identified by experts in news stories as a sea lion that I knew what it was. There are lots of sea lions and seals in the San Diego area, and I’ll admit I couldn’t tell you the difference.
Time to educate myself.
I turned to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and they made it easy:
There we go, and now let’s go back to our wanderer.
Whom we learned was a male.
And whom I’ve named Peri, The Peripatetic Sea Lion.
While Peri was doing his wandering thing, motorists were calling the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the CHP was calling the SeaWorld San Diego Rescue Team.
But – why was Peri crossing the road?
I know, I know – to get to the other side.
The news stories didn’t say, but it turns out that Peri is indeed peripatetic.
And this isn’t the first time Peri has been picked up by the SeaWorld Rescue Team.
According to one of the team members,
“In the beginning of November, this sea lion was rescued from Harbor Island Drive near the airport. After about a week of care, the animal was deemed ready and was returned. In December, the same sea lion was seen right along the boardwalk in Mission Beach, near a deli in Mission Bay, and on the Navy Base in Point Loma.”
Here’s a map of Peri’s wanderings. The numbers indicate the locations mentioned by the Rescue Team member, and the star was Peri’s latest location:
Time to rescue Peri.
Friday, 10:30am: The SeaWorld team arrived and approached Peri with caution – a sea lion can inflict painful bites when it feels threatened, or even just cranky. And Perry had just slogged a long way across land – I’m thinking he just wanted to chill:
Gotcha! The first of three nets landed on Peri. This wasn’t the team’s first rodeo, and they know the drill:
Peri was gently but firmly eased into the container:
Loaded onto the SeaWorld truck:
And taken to SeaWorld:
Where he’s spending about a week in rehabilitation, and posing for photo ops:
One article suggested that Peri’s rehabilitation will include testing to determine the cause of his wanderings, and I imagine that will include some time with a sea lion therapist:
Therapist: Peri, nice to see you again.
Therapist: What’s that? Sure, since you’re here, I can check your teeth.
Therapist: What we need to address today, Peri, is why you’re…
Therapist: Peri, that’s a nice trick, but I need for you to engage here. What? You say you did a trick, and now you expect a fish? Geez…
Therapist: OK, so – why don’t you stretch out on that lounge chair and get comfortable? That’s good, good. Now, Peri…Peri? Are you awake?
Therapist: That’s it! I give up! Tell the team to take Peri back to the beach and turn him lose!
I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Peri.
And since I gave Peri his name, I think I’ll also give him a theme song. How about…