Watch Hundreds of California Seals Seek Higher Ground as the Massive Storm Approaches

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Published: August 21, 2023
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While no longer classified as a hurricane, Tropical Storm Hilary continues to move north on August 20, just off the shores of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. This storm is packing enough rain to cause disastrous and life-threatening flooding throughout a significant portion of the southwestern United States. 

Weather experts say that the storm is expected to make history as the first major tropical storm to strike Southern California in 84 years. Tropical Storm Hilary will bring flash floods, landslides, isolated storms, and other severe weather. 

Hurricanes Cyclone view from space. Hurricanes Ida Cyclone from above, the sky. Typhoon. Elements of this image are furnished by Nasa.

Hurricanes often die-down before reaching shore.

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Authorities released an evacuation warning for Santa Catalina Island, 23 miles off the shore, advising locals and tourists to depart. While humans can evacuate when needed, it’s not always the same for wildlife.

People in Monterey Bay have witnessed an increase in seals, sea lions, and even otters seeking shelter. Fact-checkers have stated the amount of these wild animals in this area is nothing new and may not have anything to do with the incoming storm. 

How Do Animals Find Shelter During Hurricanes?

Marine animals that can move quickly, such as some bony fish and species of sharks, may recognize barometric shifts and dive into the deep ocean to avoid the storm. These are excellent adaptive traits for some creatures, but because territorial animals won’t leave their habitats, immovable wildlife remains unable to withstand the storm. 

Others are still unaware of what is to come. A lot of creatures simply shelter in place if they are unable to flee the hurricane. They might seek refuge in nests, caves, and other structures.

Cape fur seal in Hermanus Harbour, South Africa

Seals are often found on the shores of Monterey Bay.


Animals that live in burrows usually fare the best, but they can be vulnerable to floods. Strong wings can blow nests straight out of a tree. Even the most well-hidden animals could be ensnared by or trapped by foliage.

The thought of fleeing to calmer waters is impossibly difficult for most species who live their whole lives near the shore. The currents from tropical storms tear through tidal or coastal environments. 

Silt, grit, and other items, notably pollutants, and possibly dangerous compounds, drag along the swiftly moving water. In addition to making the water murky and challenging to see through, silt and dirt frequently plug fish gills, preventing them from breathing. 

Fish as well as other marine life, including seals and manatees, can be physically thrown out of the water by strong waves, where they will become beached and perish. These tropical storms continue to pose one of the largest natural risks to marine life, despite the fact that some species may have some ancillary advantages; nonetheless, it is likely that human behavior in connection with climate change contributes to the storms’ rising ferocity.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tarpan/

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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