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Proposal to Protect Seals at La Jolla Children’s Pool

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Photo from 'ginsnob' via Flickr

Photo from 'ginsnob' via Flickr

For over a decade, the La Jolla Children’s Pool has been “a battleground for pro-access and wildlife advocacy groups.” The Children’s Pool—separated from the surf by a wall, creating calm waters in the artificial cove—has become the home for a controversially located seal colony since the 1990s.

The pro-access groups want the beach to be restored to what it would have looked like in 1941: more sanitary (seal feces have created unsafe bacteria levels in the water) and with fewer seals, so the beach can be primarily used by children, swimmers and snorkelers—its original purpose when it was first established.

The pro-seal groups believe that scaring the seals away from their home at the Children’s Pool would be violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This cove, next to Seal Rock, has become somewhat of a sanctuary for the seals throughout the past two decades. Additionally, the seals have become a great attraction for many visitors.

There is also disagreement over who harasses whom—one side argues that the seals propose danger to humans, while the other claims that humans disturb the seals daily.

This long debate could be over if the San Diego City Council adopts a proposal prohibiting public access to the beach during the seals’ pupping (birthing) season, December 15 to May 15. The proposal allows shared use (between the seals and humans) during the rest of the year; however, a rope barrier would be present to encourage a safe distance from the seals. People are allowed to cross the rope to use the beach, but dogs would be banned from the beach year-round.

The proposal was forwarded to full City Council, and if it’s approved, the proposal would then be “submitted to the California Coastal Commission for final adoption,” according to The San Diego Union Tribune.

Since 2009, over 50 incidents of disturbing the peace have occurred at the Children’s Pool beach. Because of the two conflicting sides, specific rules are needed to regulate issue. Furthermore, May 15, the end of pupping season, is just around the corner and the city will need to decide whether the rope barrier stays up or comes down.

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