Some who support humans using Children's Pool want to encourage the seals to find another place to haul out. But the seals appear to have no inclination to leave. And that raises the question of how to encourage them to leave, perhaps to return to Seal Rock, which, according to many, offers visitors a good view of the seals, too.
"The last thing the politicians want," says local resident Carl Lind, "is to be shown on video with their agents chasing seals off the beach. But they don't have to do that, because several times a day, at least once, there will be zero seals at the Children's Pool. They have to go out to feed and do whatever they do. So you see this beautiful sandy beach down there with not one seal on it. The way to do it is wait until the seals leave on their own and then hire a rent-a-cop and let him walk back and forth on the beach. This is passive. You can do it without scaring the seals. They'll see some action on the beach and find another place. Right now they might not care [about people on the beach], because they're so used to seeing them. But if the rent-a-cop had a dog on a leash, that might do something. It would be a passive way of doing this."
Jeanne Perry thinks the mere presence of people sitting on the beach would discourage the seals from coming there in the numbers they have been. But she doesn't want to drive them all away. "Think of going to the beach," she says, "and you want to find a patch of sand to sit on. Well, somebody's already got their beach towel there, their beach chair, and their umbrella. You'll move down the beach a little more and find your own patch. Isn't that what seals would do, too?"
The current concentration of seals at Children's Pool makes many surfers in the area worry about sharks, for which seals are natural prey. Melinda Merryweather says some fishermen told her that last winter they spotted a white shark several hundred yards off Windansea beach thrashing a seal in the water. Many marine biologists believe that most shark attacks on humans are "prey-identification mistakes."
Merryweather has lived in La Jolla all her life. "A thing that's scaring me now is that we're attracting sharks, and my son is a surfer. The city has been warned that this is a scary possibility."
Other, less serious but still unpleasant possibilities have occurred to Merryweather. "At any moment," she says, "the seals could go around to the Cove and take it over. What are we going to do then? What happens when ten of them start lying down at La Jolla Shores? Harbor seals are not endangered in any size, shape, or form.
"My grandmother swam at the Children's Pool, my mom swam there, I swam there, I taught my son to swim there, and I now want to teach my granddaughter to swim there, because it is one of the safest places that we have to swim in the ocean.
"The awful thing that has happened," continues Merryweather, "is that we have lost one of our most beautiful resources, which is criminal. There should never be loss of any beach, anywhere in the world. Nobody should ever be told they can't go on a beach. That police barrier, that piece of rope up there at the Children's Pool, is ridiculous. To tell you the truth, the other day I walked right through it. Myself and a swimmer. And the seals didn't move. We were within our rights. Unless you bother the seals, it is no big deal. I would like to go down there and talk to the seals and say to them, 'Do you know that a whole generation is going to miss swimming at this pool that all our other generations of humans swam at? Would you guys mind moving down the beach a way?' And I think they would say, 'Sure.' "
At the April 1 council meeting last spring, Jim Hudnall handed Mayor Murphy a stack of more than 11,000 signed petitions asking the city to make Children's Pool a seal reserve. The city council ignored the petition in favor of ordering a study on how to make Children's Pool suitable for swimming again. An announcement of that plan is now more than two months overdue.