Cops Pick up Sea Lion on Bay Area Freeway

"Fruitvale" happily hops into squad car

By Jessica Greene
|  Monday, Jun 22, 2009  |  Updated 9:30 AM PDT
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Vets Work to Unravel Mystery of Sick Sea Lions

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Sea lions wander onto Bay Area freeways fairly frequently.

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A sea lion was picked up by Oakland police Monday morning after it wandered onto northbound Interstate 880, a California Highway Patrol officer said.

The sea lion was spotted at about 5:45 a.m. as it moved south in the center divide of northbound I-880, just south of Park Street, the CHP reported.

Nicknamed "Fruitvale" because he was found wandering in the Fruitvale area of Oakland, the sea lion wasn't afraid of police. An Oakland officer stopped nearby and the little animal hopped into his squad car.

Police held Fruitvale in the squad car until personnel from the Marine Mammal Center arrived to take the animal, CHP Officer Peter Van Eckhardt said.

A Marine Mammal Center spokesman was not immediately available to provide an update on the sea lion's condition.

Fruitvale is not the first sea lion to find its way to a Bay Area freeway recently. Richmond police and rescuers captured the 4-month-old pup on May 21 after it was spotted waddling down the busy Richmond Parkway.

The 3-foot-long critter was nicknamed "Moody," and taken to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. Sadly, he died a few days later.

Marine mammal experts say the animals that wander into the roadways are usually sick or hungry. There is speculation that El Nino is driving plankton and smaller fish deep into cold water, where sea lions can't swim, causing them to starve.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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