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Hey, Matt:

My new Thomas Guide, page 1227, identifies the ocean just off Scripps as "Scripps Institution submerged land area (private)." Can Scripps actually own the ocean bottom? If I dove there, could I sue Scripps for any injuries incurred?

-- Just wondering, Encinitas

Sorry to squelch your get-rich-via-the-courts plan, but the large offshore area in question does not belong to Scripps, and it's not private. It's part of the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park. California won't let anyone own underwater land (some states do), but you can lease that land and declare it private. In fact, if you're building something like an oil rig or a marina, you have to get a lease from the state land commission. Scripps has a lease for their pier, and the pier is private. Maybe that's what the Thomases are talking about. FYI, "submerged land" differs from "tidelands" in that it lies below the mean low tide line and is constantly under water.

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