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Longtime effort to lure Great Whites to La Jolla via sedentary seals bears fruit

Shark Park

Hooray, it’s a breach at the beach!
Hooray, it’s a breach at the beach!

In 1931, Ellen Browning Scripps paid for the construction of a breakwater that would create a place where children could play and swim undisturbed by the fierce ocean’s tumultuous waves. And for decades, that’s exactly what it was. But of course, man is not the only mammal that enjoys fatly lolling on the beach beside a placid pool, and by 1997, the spot was closed to swimmers because of a seal excrement overload that brought on “continuously high fecal coliform counts.”

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At first, opponents of the invasion of filthy immigrant seals were baffled and outraged by the Pinniped Project’s encroachment on a gift expressly intended as a blessing for the good citizens of La Jolla — and especially their children, who are, it must be admitted, the future. “I mean, it’d be one thing if the seals behaved the way we do, and refrained from pooping in the water,” says La Jolla resident Samantha St. Whitepower. “But they don’t. They’re animals, that’s all there is to it.”

But as St. Whitepower notes, “There’s more than one way to skin a seal. Once we realized that we couldn’t rely on our own government to protect us from these lawless layabouts — the partial wall only seemed to encourage them — we decided to take another approach. I think it was the seal pup births in ’99 that gave us the idea. If we couldn’t have fewer seals, maybe we could have more. Lots more. Basking in the sun, taking slow swims through the still waters, multiplying until their numbers were enough to attract the right sort of attention. Everybody knows a Great White shark’s favorite food is seal. And here at the Children’s Pool, you could have hundreds, ripe for the picking. So we started agitating on behalf of our enemies, throwing our support behind their presence, waiting for the day. Last week, that day came. And the best part is, there’s nothing kids love more than watching a Great White shark open its gaping maw and chomp down on its hapless prey. They may not be able to swim there, but at long last, it really is a Children’s Pool again.”

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Hooray, it’s a breach at the beach!
Hooray, it’s a breach at the beach!

In 1931, Ellen Browning Scripps paid for the construction of a breakwater that would create a place where children could play and swim undisturbed by the fierce ocean’s tumultuous waves. And for decades, that’s exactly what it was. But of course, man is not the only mammal that enjoys fatly lolling on the beach beside a placid pool, and by 1997, the spot was closed to swimmers because of a seal excrement overload that brought on “continuously high fecal coliform counts.”

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At first, opponents of the invasion of filthy immigrant seals were baffled and outraged by the Pinniped Project’s encroachment on a gift expressly intended as a blessing for the good citizens of La Jolla — and especially their children, who are, it must be admitted, the future. “I mean, it’d be one thing if the seals behaved the way we do, and refrained from pooping in the water,” says La Jolla resident Samantha St. Whitepower. “But they don’t. They’re animals, that’s all there is to it.”

But as St. Whitepower notes, “There’s more than one way to skin a seal. Once we realized that we couldn’t rely on our own government to protect us from these lawless layabouts — the partial wall only seemed to encourage them — we decided to take another approach. I think it was the seal pup births in ’99 that gave us the idea. If we couldn’t have fewer seals, maybe we could have more. Lots more. Basking in the sun, taking slow swims through the still waters, multiplying until their numbers were enough to attract the right sort of attention. Everybody knows a Great White shark’s favorite food is seal. And here at the Children’s Pool, you could have hundreds, ripe for the picking. So we started agitating on behalf of our enemies, throwing our support behind their presence, waiting for the day. Last week, that day came. And the best part is, there’s nothing kids love more than watching a Great White shark open its gaping maw and chomp down on its hapless prey. They may not be able to swim there, but at long last, it really is a Children’s Pool again.”

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