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Pregnant elephant seal determined to cross Calif. freeway on her own, refuses help

SEARS POINT, Calif. -- A 900-pound pregnant elephant seal that wandered onto Highway 37 Monday afternoon was safely lured into a nearby swamp, authorities said.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the seal, now named Tolay by rescuers, wandered onto the freeway from a nearby marsh at about 1 p.m, CBS San Francisco reports.

A call was made to the San Pablo Bay National Marine Sanctuary, who sent a crew to the scene. The seal was lured back into the swampy marsh area by the crew and escaped injury.

While traffic was slowed by drivers reacting to seeing the sea mammal on the highway, the number of people slowing down and even stopping to take photos of the seal also contributed to congestion in the area.

CHP Officer Andrew Barclay said several motorists stopped to try to help the elephant seal but "it did not want their help."

CHP officers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crews were able to divert the animal back into the water but it is "very committed to crossing" and "keeps trying to come out," Barclay said.

Officials at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito warned local residents never to approach a stranded seal. Instead they should call the center's hotline at 415-289-SEAL.

After officials were able to get the elephant seal into the water, it managed to make its way back to the shore, where it ended up getting stuck in the mud.

Marine Mammal Center officials planned to go back to the shore around 3 a.m. Tuesday morning when the next high tide hits in an effort to get the animal back to safety.

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