Well, 101 1/2 miles to be exact — and that’s as the crow flies (or the car drives) not as the sea lion swims. But that’s how far inland a sea lion pup was when ranch hands in a California almond orchard recently found him, disoriented and “emaciated.”
Sea lions are a common sight around the bays of San Francisco, lounging and chortling in the sun. Veterinary staffers at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito figure that the youngster might have gotten separated from his mother, taken a wrong turn into the San Joaquin River and then kept on going until he was eight miles west of Modesto late last month.
(Click on the map to see a larger image. (A) marks Modesto, not where Hoppie was found. But the map shows the scope of Hoppie’s amazing journey.)