Monday, October 3, 2011
“I SWEAR I’M NOT DRUNK!”
Oblivious to speeding cars and trucks, a California sea lion crossed eight lanes of traffic and a concrete median on Highway 101 Saturday morning, exiting at Broadway before Burlingame police pulled him over. "Drivers were calling us, saying 'I swear I'm not drunk, but there's a sea lion in the middle of the freeway,' " said Burlingame police Cpl. Laura Terada. "There were zero accidents because of this, which is amazing."
The incident happened around 7 a.m., when motorists reported the sea lion flopping westward - apparently heading from nearby San Francisco Bay across the freeway to the sleepy Peninsula suburb. When police and animal rescuers arrived, the errant pinniped had perched himself on a tree stump alongside the Broadway off-ramp.
"He couldn't look more calm, like he owned the place," said Dustin Lorensen of the Peninsula Humane Society, which contracts with San Mateo County for wildlife rescue. "He looked as relaxed as the ones at Pier 39." California Highway Patrol officers closed the off-ramp until staff from the Marine Mammal Center arrived to take the 150-pound sea lion back to the Sausalito veterinary center for tests.
The sea lion, whom the center's staff dubbed Broadway Bound, is suffering from a misaligned jaw and overall stress, said center spokesman Jim Oswald. "He definitely seems fatigued," he said. The sea lion may have incurred the jaw trouble when it hoisted itself over the 3 1/2-foot-tall concrete median, Oswald said.
Monday, after Broadway Bound has time to rest - and, no doubt, snack on some herring - veterinarians will give the sea lion a brain scan and test its blood. They'll also check its gender, which was not immediately apparent.
One possible explanation for Broadway Bound's foray from the cool waters of the bay is that it's suffering from disorientation due to eating fish sickened by a toxic algae bloom, Oswald said. The Marine Mammal Center rescues 600 animals a year. Of these, 75 percent are sea lions.
No man is an island, but some of us are pretty long peninsulas.
He may have hair on his chest, but so has Lassie.
- Cole Porter
I never panic when I get lost. I just change where it is I want to go.
- Rita Rudner.