Wednesday brought another victory for Pacific harbor seals in San Diego! The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously for a year-round rope to be in place on Casa Beach (also known as La Jolla’s Children’s Pool) for the next four years to protect vulnerable seals from human interference.
In February 2014, following years of contention over this issue, the San Diego City Council voted to close Casa Beach to public use during the harbor seal pupping season from December 15th to May 15th each year. The Coastal Commission approved the motion unanimously in August 2014. This week’s decision will ensure additional protection for the seals, who have endured being harassed and chased into the water and even violently assaulted by beachgoers. In 2013, the beach’s “Seal Cam,” set up to monitor the animals, caught two women brutally kicking pregnant seals.Sea Shepherd's San Diego chapter attended Wednesday’s public meeting in support of the seals and the Coastal Commission’s unanimous vote was met with no opposition in the room.
Sea Shepherd has advocated on behalf of the seals of La Jolla for years and worked for a time in cooperation with local grassroots organization Seal Conservancy. Sea Shepherd Founder Captain Paul Watson spoke before the City Council in 2004 against an ill-conceived proposal to dredge the seal colony habitat. In January 2011, Sea Shepherd’s Los Angeles chapter staged a demonstration for the seals and Sea Shepherd drew crucial media attention to this issue. In 2014, Sea Shepherd formed its San Diego chapter. Volunteers from the San Diego and Los Angeles chapters remained involved in the plight of the seals, attending public meetings and submitting a letter from Sea Shepherd in support of the year-round rope on Casa Beach.
The tide is changing and the seals are being given back the beach needed to raise their young, molt, regulate their temperature, and rest in safety onshore. The rope will deter harmful human contact with the seals. Even well-intentioned individuals who touch the seals can endanger these wild animals by teaching them to trust approaching humans or leaving them in fear of utilizing the beach that they desperately need to raise the future generations of their species.
Sea Shepherd thanks Seal Conservancy for their dedication to this issue, and to all of our volunteers and supporters who have helped to bring about this victory for the seals. We applaud the San Diego City Council and the California Coastal Commission for their actions to protect these beautiful, intelligent marine mammals.
In four years, we must prove to the California Coastal Commission that not only should the rope be continuously in place, but that the closure of the beach during pupping season should also be a permanent protection. Sea Shepherd will be there.