The road’s been sealed off! Lost elephant seal brings mayhem to Chilean town as it shuffles through the streets before locals guise it back to sea
- The giant seal had managed to shuffle around ten blocks in Puerto Cisnes, Chile
- Police, Chilean Navy officials and locals blocked off its route further inland
- Using tarpaulin, they were able to redirect the seal back towards the ocean
- It made it back in to the water just in time for the local coronavirus curfew
A lost elephant seal the size of a small car brought mayhem to a Chilean town on Monday as it shuffled through the streets before locals guided it back to sea.
The huge animal managed to lumber down ten blocks of a residential area of Puerto Cisnes, in the country’s southern Patagonian region, before returning to its natural habitat with a little bit of help from the locals.
Police and Chilean Navy officials joined local residents as they sealed off streets leading further inland with cars and plastic sheeting before using the same tarpaulin to guide it back to the ocean.
This giant elephant seal made it around ten block into the the Chilean town of Puerto Cisnes before locals blocked its path further inland and guided it back to the ocean
Using tarpaulin, the locals were able to block the seal from going further inland and also guide it back through the streets towards the ocean
Other Good Samaritans threw buckets of water over the confused animal to keep it hydrated.
It made it back to the water shortly before a coronavirus curfew imposed on the town’s 2,500 inhabitants.
The astonishing scene unfolded late on Monday.
Manuel Novoa, a presenter at local radio station Radio Autentica FM who shot footage of the incident and offered a live commentary of the rescue, said: ‘Look at all the people who are helping and are using tarpaulin to circle it.
‘It’s just a few feet from the sea now. The work neighbours have done has been incredible. They’re giving it time to rest because it’s covered around 10 blocks and must be very tired.’
A dog was even seen joining in at one point, wagging its tail as it ran up to the army of helpers running behind the elephant seal as it sped up its belly flops along the tarmac after realising the water was within touching distance.
In one video, a local is seen squirting water over the seal to keep it hydrated as it appears helpless and stranded on the street of the town
Applause rang out as the animal made it to the ocean between fishing boats anchored by the water’s edge and disappeared into the darkness.
A Navy official told Mr Novoa as volunteers packed up their plastic sheeting and returned home: ‘I want to thank the local community in the name of the Chilean Navy.
‘It was a great effort. The seal is safe now and out of danger from humans and dogs that could do it damage.
The seal had shuffled around ten block into the town before locals blocked its path and turned it back in the right direction
Local poured buckets of water over the seal to keep it hydrated and stopped to give it regular breaks to make sure it did not get exhausted
‘We’re very happy and we’ll be carrying out constant patrols to make sure it doesn’t return to dry land and suffer an accident.
Navy Captain Christian Reyes Jofre said in a subsequent statement: ‘We ask people when they see these animals not to approach them or take their pets to see them.
‘A safe distance should be maintained to give them the peace and calm they need so they don’t become disorientated or stressed.’
A dog was even seen joining in at one point, wagging its tail as it ran up to the army of helpers running behind the elephant seal
The bizarre episode has been linked to the fact the normally busy town is on coronavirus lockdown and its streets are silent at night-time because of a Covid-19 curfew.
A witness named only as Antonia told local press: ‘It was moving very quickly. My son spotted it first and initially he was frightened.
‘I had never seen an elephant seal so close up, and certainly never in a populated area. You usually see them in the sea and a long distance from land.’
Once it saw the ocean, it sped up its belly-flops and to its relief and that of the locals, successfully returned to its natural habitat just in time for the coronavirus curfew
Southern elephant seals, the type found in southern Chile, were hunted to the brink of extinction by the end of the 19th century, but their numbers have since recovered.
They spend up to 80 per cent of their lives in the ocean and can hold their breath for more than 100 minutes, longer than any other non cetacean mammal.
They take their names from the large nose of the adult males which resemble an elephant’s trunk.
The seals typically reach a length of 16ft and a weight around three tonnes.