Wednesday morning, December 30, volunteers from Seal Watch (an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting harbor seals) manned their posts in the cul-de-sac above the La Jolla Children’s Pool.
“The most current news is unfortunate,” said Tony, a Seal Watch volunteer. “We’ve lost five pups due to premature births just this month.” Tony stated that a rope barrier was erected on December 16 on an emergency basis as a way of protecting both seals and their observers. Propped up on the seawall beside Tony was a sign that read: “Please Don’t Go On The Beach When Seals Pass Rope.”
“The rope barrier works well...most are respectful...except for a few anti-seal people who always go past it,” said Akin Cakar, another Seal Watch volunteer. “There’s one local guy who sets up his umbrella, plays his ukulele, swims, and posts a sign that reads: ‘Beaches Open.’ The seals flee from the beach when he does this.... Sometimes this results in the moms abandoning their pups...often those pups die. It’s like he wants his own reality show or something.”
Disturbing to the volunteers is the fact that the signs posted by the City are confusing to spectators, especially out-of-towners less familiar with the issue. “Look”, said Tony, pointing to, then reading one of the City’s signs” “’Public Access on the Beach is Allowed at All Times’... “Well, is it or isn’t it? The City erected the rope...it’s just confusing to people...that’s all I’m sayin.”
A long-awaited victory for the seals occurs tomorrow, January 1, 2010: a state law goes into effect that allows the City to manage the beach as a marine mammal park.