I was back in Southern California over the weekend and took the opportunity to head down to check out the seals at the Children's Pool in La Jolla. Now, it has probably been about 4 or 5 years since I was last there and at that time the beach area was filled with hundreds of seals; it's a really amazing sight to see that many seals lounging around. However, I was disappointed this time as there were really only about 10 on the beach, but then I also noticed that there were people on the beach, too!
I came to learn that since the last time I was there it has been turned into a "shared use" beach. Now this creates some problems... as soon as people step foot on the beach the seals scatter. As well, since these are wild seals mothers will protect their pups. There's also a lot of controversy around the beach as well.
Back in 1931 Ellen Browing Scripps funded the building of the sea wall that protects the beach from the sometimes rough ocean. The intent was to create a place for children to play and enjoy while being protected by the waves. Once the sea wall was complete it was gifted to the City of San Diego with the understanding that it would be used as s public park, children's bathing area and general playground.
Not too far away from the Children's Pool was Seal Rock, home to a large seal population that was designated as a wildlife reserve. However, at sometime between 1994 and 1996 the seals began to migrate over to the beach at the Children's Pool. Not long after that seal pup births were noticed on the beach.
So here's where the controversy entered... the large population of seals deposit a large population of excrement, and as a result the beach was closed to swimming for health concerns, then the obvious discussions began about whether the seals should be removed. This would eventually end up with 2 camps, those for public use of the beach, and an advocate group to protect the seals. Needless to say that these 2 groups don't necessarily get along.
A number of legal battles have been waged, but no one has come up with a suitable solution. While I was there I had someone thank me for using a telephoto lens as opposed to going down on the beach to get a closer shot (he was obviously on the seal side). There are regular seal advocates that are looking out for the welfare of the animals on a daily basis, and in the past both sides have gotten a little heated more than once. It really seems to be a no win situation for everyone.
My take, because I usually always have an opinion on most things, is that the beach should be left for the seals only and it should be a continuous marine wildlife reserve. I mean really, it's Southern California and there are tons of beaches to choose from, so why some people feel the need to assert themselves to take over the beach is beyond me. Leave the seals be and enjoy the other beaches that are available.