As the crow flies, Garlock Road in Castle Rock, Wash., is about 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Crows are actually known to make their nests in the area.
As of recently, so are sea lions.
Sergeant Corey Huffine of the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office came across a “wayward sea lion” one morning when he found it blocking the country road. Garlock winds through about a mile of Washington forest and farmland. It crosses over the Delameter Creek, which connects to the Cowitz River, which meets the Columbia about 53 miles from the Pacific Ocean. If the sea lion kept to the main waterways on its way to Garlock Road, it’s possible the animal traveled close to 75 miles after leaving the ocean.
Sgt. Huffline posted photos of the encounter to Facebook.
“Sergeant Corey Huffine dealt with an unexpected road hazard today on Garlock Road in Castle Rock,” the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office wrote.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s office deputies and Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife officials worked together to load their land-locked new friend onto transportation back to the Columbia River.
According to the Marine Mammal Center, male Steller or northern sea lions can grow to 11 feet long and weight up to 2,500 pounds. The noisier and more playful California sea lion, which Sgt. Huffline seems to have found, can potentially reach up to 7 feet long and 850 pounds in weight. They make their way around on land with strong front flippers.
“California sea lions are very social animals, and groups often rest closely packed together at favored haul-out sites on land or float together on the ocean’s surface in ‘rafts,'” the Marine Mammal Center reports. “They are sometimes seen ‘porpoising,’ or jumping out of the water, presumably to speed up their swimming.”
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.