California Coastal Commission approves closing of La Jolla’s Children’s Pool Beach from December to May to protect seal pups
A plan of the San Diego City Council involving barring people from the very popular Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla was passed by the California Coastal Commission last Thursday. The approval allows the city to close the beach from December 15 to May 15, what is known as the pupping season for harbor seals.
Prior to the new plan, the authorities had attempted to prevent the seal pups from becoming disturbed by tourists or swimmers or other user of the beach area by erecting a barrier made of rope. Eventually this proved unworkable.
The purpose of the ban is to allow the harbor seal pups to be born, and the mother seals to begin to nurse and nurture the pups. The animal rights advocates who supported the new law claim the mother seals will be scared off if humans are allowed access to the beach and will not properly nurse or get their offspring to the point they can survive on their own.
The San Diego City Council passed an ordinance last February by a 6-3 vote to close Children’s Pool Beach during the period of the year that the pups were born and raised to functional adulthood. The closure during the winter/spring is scheduled to last until 2019. At that time the success of the ban in terms of both the seals and the beach will be reassessed.
Since 1994, more than a million dollars has been spent by the city in defending its policies concerning the seals to lawsuits from those who feel the beach should be open all year round and that citizens and tourist should have precedence over seals.
The city council member representing the La Jolla district has consistently voted against all such measures, arguing that the public legally has rights that supersede seals.
The harbor seals have birthed their pups on this specific stretch of La Jolla beach since the 1990’s. No other spots along the coast all the way to Ventura County are utilized by the seals. Scientists have so far not been able to explain their preference for the La Jolla Children’s Pool Beach.