Sides at Children’s Pool clearly drawn at Sunday seal rally

By Dave Schwab
Staff Writer

Dueling signs, one reading “Sensitive harbor seals, beach closed,” and the other proclaiming, “This beach is manmade, feel free to cross the rope,” epitomized the continuing debate over shared use there by humans and harbor seals.

Signs were carried by both pro-seal and pro-beach access camps who were out in force April 3 at Children’s Pool on a day when animal advocates had called for a 2 p.m. rally to protest escalating beach use by humans during the marine mammals’ Dec. 15 to May 15 pupping season.

“On the walkway above the pool, seal advocates waived signs and shouted support for protecting the marine mammals. Meanwhile, down below on the beach, a group of about 40 pro-access proponents were camped out on the “seal’s side” of the guideline rope meant to separate humans from nursing seals and their pups.

On the upper-level walkway, three “free speech” tables vied with one another for attention from a crowded group of passersby, which included considerable spillover from the La Jolla Motor Car Classic being held nearby at La Jolla Cove.

Diver John Leek was at a table representing Children’s Pool Friends, a permitted pro-access beach group. There were stuffed animals and other gifts for sale at the table but Leek noted “we pretty much sell them at cost.”

Asked how he felt about the city’s permitting process for tables, Leek said: “The City Attorney has not allowed it to be enforced, so it’s a dead issue.”

Asked what he’d like to see happen, ultimately at the pool, Leek, who is not a La Jolla resident said, “It’s good to me.”

Twenty feet or so further down the walkway volunteer Hasan Gulkun, also a non-La Jollan, was staffing a table run by Earth Life, Inc. selling tie-dye T-shirts promoting environmental causes.

“Our mission is to protect the oceans, the animals and the wildlife,” he said, adding money made goes toward environmental causes.

Brooke Haggerty of SealWatch, a campaign of the Animal Protection and Rescue League, was staffing the third and final table which is operating without a city permit.

“Our mission is to allow the seals to have a little but of space to rest and digest,” she said, noting financial donations for stuffed animals and other gifts being sold by her group goes mostly toward paying animal-advocacy campaign expenses.

“I promise you it’s (funding) not a lot,” she said.

Of permitting, Haggerty said, “It’s not doing much in regulating the situation out here.”

Asked about the ranger who was just hired to patrol Children’s Pool who has been transferred, Haggerty replied: “You can’t put all of that on one person’s shoulders.”

Haggerty added shared use is a “lovely idea.” But she also questioned its viability, noting, “For the sake of reality, we need a compromise to have people on one side (of the rope) and seals on the other.”

Ellen Shively, president of La Jolla Friends of Seals, said the rally was called to show shared use at the pool isn’t working.

“The pro-beach access people have commandeered it (pool),” she said. “This is what shared use has come to: It’s not shared. It’s completely dominated by the people.”

“Our goal is to have full protection for seals and a marine mammal park preserve,” said John Hartley, former City Councilman and Sierra Club member.

A representative of the group camped out on Children’s Pool beach, who requested anonymity, talked about why they were there.

“We’re using a public-access beach,” he said. “Nobody on this beach is anti-seal: We love seals. We just want to have a shared beach. That’s all there is to it.”

David Pierce of the San Diego Council of Divers agreed with that perspective.

“People are tired of these eco-terrorists trying to take over their beach,” he said. “For the last 10 years or so animal advocates have been using threats and intimidation to keep people off the beach.”

Pierce had recent video footage taken of divers and harbor seals interacting playfully and peacefully playing in the back of his vehicle for passersby to see to demonstrate shared use is a reality at the pool.

Related posts:

  1. Children’s Pool ranger transfers out as confrontations continue
  2. Free speech is latest battleground at Children’s Pool
  3. City hires permanent ranger for La Jolla Children’s Pool
  4. Bishop’s student does his part to fight youth violence
  5. Property owner disputes La Jolla Shores beach access claim

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Posted by Dave Schwab on Apr 3, 2011. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

31 Comments for “Sides at Children’s Pool clearly drawn at Sunday seal rally”

  1. Ryan

    Take a look at the high resolution photo of the signs.…. (you will have to zoom in to read all the text)

    You will see blatant misinformation on the "sensitive harbor seals" sign.

    1. The beach is not closed.

    2. The sign is from the Carpinteria colony up near Santa Barbara.(look at the very bottom of the sign in small print). As such the
    information regarding laws on it has no relevance at La Jolla's Children's Pool beach.

    2. It claims there are only four seal colonies on the southern California coast, which is entirely false. Here is a link to a government website showing the results of an aerial survey conducted in 2005 to count harbor seals and their colonies: – on page 14 you will see it clearly they counted 14 habor seal haulout sites aka colonies on the southern California mainland coast.

    The people who desire beach closures tell the public false things routinely. That includes newspaper reporters. There is no real debate here. The seals are free to use the beach. People are free to use the beach. Shared use works and does not harm the seals!

    • Ryan

      correction: "on page 14 you will see it clearly they counted 20 (TWENTY) harbor seal haulout sites aka colonies on the southern California mainland coast. "

  2. Frank

    I was taking pictures today of a Mom a pup. 30 feet away with a telephoto lens. And a women
    Protester grab my camera lens. Camera $ 5,000. Lens $1,500. Give me a break. I have live
    here for 46 years, And I will never disrupt any creature on this Earth. So why don't they find a life. There was about 10 Police officers there. Are they paying for there time ? No. These
    people are more disruptive to the mammals then there aware of. Why don't they worry about human hunger.

  3. Guest

    First we have to put up with Mr. Stun Gun Brian Pease of SealWatch/APRL filing endless lawsuits against the City of San Diego trying to force the city to illegally close Children's Pool. No contest to a assault charge.

    Dorota Valli and Andrea Hahn on their militant campaign to harass and intimidate people off a public beach.

    Now another no contest plea on a lewd conduct charge from the La Jolla Friends of Seals spokesman and Sierra Club activist, John Hartley. Can't you seal extremists find normal people to do your bidding. Google KGTV John Hartley lewd conduct for this sorry story. Thugs, kooks and creeps brought to La Jolla. Enough!

  4. Jen

    The only ones disrupting the harmony at the Children’s Pool are the belligerent animal right’s activists. We happened to visit the area yesterday; we weren’t there to support either the pro-access group or the seal supporters. The only behavior we saw that likely disturbed BOTH people and seals alike came from the animal rights groups, with their yelling, chanting, clapping and aggressive tactics. They were all over the beach bullying people to leave. Signs posted by the city clearly state that it’s unlawful to bother the wildlife – what about harassing law-abiding citizens? My family was appalled at the level of harassment that PEOPLE are subjected to at this location.

    • ohby

      no Jen, that's a lie. The pro-seal people didn't even cross the rope. THEY WERE NOT ON THE BEACH. Stop lying.

      • Ryan

        C'mon now ohby….were you even there? We've got it all on video… search youtube for "sunday with the seals"

        And by the way, there were people there that day who weren't the "regulars"… some animal liberation extremists came from a sea world protest and they were walking ALL OVER the beach.

  5. the_z_man

    Why are these belligerent animal rights panhandlers (that's what they are–trying to scam tourist dollars) allowed to harass people who share the beach with nature? Are they going to scream and yell at people for scattering squirrels at a local park?

    News Flash: Seal numbers have gone up every year (more seals, more pups) in the last 10 years since the animal rights nuts have been protesting at this beach. In that time, human and seals have shared use–no harm done to seals and their numbers increase greatly.

    Where are they at the other seal haulouts? Like Point Loma? Oh, no tourist dollars there, that's why.

    I'm sick of these scammers inventing a controversy to scam tourist dollars. You can hardly talk to them or visit their website before being hit with "donations." If this beach is done, they move on to the next–it's a perpetual money machine for the seal exploiters.

  6. acephale1968

    We bought our house in La Jolla in 2009 instead of other places in the area so that my child could grow up on a place where we could walk to see the seals every morning. There are great beaches for him too, but the rare opportunity to appreciate these animals as part of his childhood is what really sealed the deal (so to speak).

    Only later did I come to realize the depth and stupidity of this controversy.

    It seems to be some weird coalition of old-time LJ residents who remember their city one way and don't cotton to the changes, and for whom "the seals" represent everything that has changed, other old timers who hate that the fact that just anybody can come to their special town ("get off my lawn"), along with other "anti-flouride" activist types who, when I engage with them in conversation, weirdly confuse "the seals" with "the illegal aliens," as well as a misc. crew of incorrigible &*@!s who, one imagines, just like the negative attention and/or have such pathetic lives that standing up the challenge posed by other mammal species seems like a "cause" to them.

    Did I miss anyone?

    You people don't deserve the beach.

    • Ryan

      Don't blame us that you didn't perform due diligence on the Children's Pool Trust which explicitly sets aside the beach for human recreational activities. People have a right to use the beach. Deal with it.

      • ohby

        people have the right to protect the beach from people too. Especially if it's a prevailing majority as in this case.

        • Ryan

          ohby, once again you couldn't be more wrong. I'm no tired of the "other side's" argument being completely divorced from all facts. State law DENIES the "right of people to protect the beach from people". It is an open access beach for people as mandated by the Children's Pool Trust.

          "That said lands shall be devoted exclusively to public park,
          marine mammal park for the enjoyment and educational benefit of
          children, bathing pool for children, parkway, highway,
          playground and recreational purposes, and to such other uses as may
          be incident to, or convenient for the full enjoyment of such purposes
          ; .
          (b) The absolute right to fish in the waters of the Pacific
          Ocean over said tidelands or
          submerged lands, with the right of convenient access to said waters
          over said lands for said purpose is hereby reserved to the people of
          the State of California."

          The text of the trust here(as amended):

          It is also against state law to interfere with fisherman and his catch.

          Unlawful to interfere with fishing: "(a) A person shall not willfully interfere with the participation of any individual in the lawful activity of shooting,
          hunting, fishing, falconry, hunting dog field trials, hunting dog
          training, or trapping at the location where that activity is taking
          place." 2009. A. link here: <a href="" rel="nofollow"&gt <a href="http://;…” target=”_blank”>;…

          • acephale1968

            This is a public beach and people have a right to enjoy the much more special spectacle of a colony of seals living and birthing in the middle of a human settlement instead of being forced by a bunch of no-life point-makers to stare at their pink burning butts instead.

            It's not seal vs. people, it's people who appreciate something special vs. people who need something better to do than harass seals. As of now it is your legal right to chase the seals away, like it is your right to fart in a library, it is also obnoxious

          • steven

            you what is just as special, having a safe place for children to swim, its special that money was donated to the city to create a special place for children.

          • Paloma

            Yes, these people really need this one spot, dont' they? Like they couldn't park their pink butts 75 feet away on the other side of the wall. Further, since I visit the 'wall' to view the seals, it is unfortunate that it is a 50/50 chance whether I will see the seals or not. Usually, these no-lifers are busy proving a point by utilizing the beach and they get the thrill of chasing seals off the beach.

            I have never seen any seal advocate get verbal with any of these folks although I was tempted to yell "Get off the beach so the seals would come back." I don't and instead, just sorrowfully walk away knowing I got another 'rare' opportunity of spotting humans on one one of the San Diego beaches. You know how uncommon that is! ;-)

            But there will always be people that view animals as pests of our world instead of residents.

    • Seal pup

      Go back where you came from…. Wow you bought your house in '09, just so your kids could see the seals. You have been here forever…. Why dont you move to santa barbara and then yours kids could see your precious seals being eating by great whites instead of humans smimming with them ..your an idiot

  7. ohby

    the city should enforce SOMETHING and not let people fight over it practically on the sand at the expense of the seals. Are we in the middle ages? What are (paid from our taxes) city officials, council people doing to end this nightmare?

    • Ryan

      It's only a nightmare because animal activists are involved. SealWatch is there, causing controversy, for their own financial benefit. Have you seen their tax returns? Over 300k in revenue in 2008.

      If the city wanted the police calls to stop, they would be best advised to kick these people without a permit off the sidewalk and return this public beach to peace.

  8. ohby

    everything would be fine if people stayed on this side of the rope. As it would happen in most civilized cities in America. (Most cities would feel blessed if they had a site like this) But not here. And you are right, I cannot argue with lies, so no more comments from me.

    • michael

      Ryan is correct. There were no problems until SealWatch got involved. The uncivil activists need to go.

      • Paloma

        I visit the pool frequently solely to see the seals. The only belligerent ones that I have seen are the folks that go down onto the beach to scare the seals away! That is your point, isn't it? You're angry because this beautiful nook is being used by animals and these animals can go just go somewhere else, right?

        The fact is they chose this one tiny little spot and it is a choice spot for those of us that actually enjoy watching wildlife, without the need to disturb it, to view these mammals. My children can watch the seals in their own natural habitat.

        Usually and sadly of late, we just see pathetically selfish people with the beach chairs, umbrellas, dive suits, etc. Yeah…like we can't see that on every inch of coastline in San Diego.

        You people must be so proud. You chased seals off the beach today!

    • antera

      "everything would be fine if people stayed on this side of the rope."

      "Everything would be fine if you stopped asking questions, and do as you're told."

  9. npk32

    Ryan, are you concerned with the well-being of the seals?

    • michael

      The pro-access groups are concerned about the entire environment. Not just the cute seals that bring SealWatch a lot of money .

    • Ryan

      I'm glad you asked that question. It seems some people assume that those who use the beach are "anti seal". This is not the case. To answer your question, I am concerned with the well-being of the seals as far as it relates to the sustaining of their species. The use of the Children's Pool as a rookery is not vital to the well-being of harbor seals in San Diego, or the California stock, OR the global population. The California population of harbor seals is thought by the government to be at it's carrying capacity:

      As for the Children's Pool seals, I would hope they stick around. Harbor seals are aesthetically pleasing. They are fun to swim with. They provide balance to the environment. The Children's Pool seals get along with sharing the beach with humans just fine; this year has seen a record number of births despite the presence of beachgoers.

      The minute you start to name them and concern yourself with the well-being of an individual animal, etc., an inappropriate attachment with the wildlife forms, impairing your judgement about proper management of the species.

      That is the problem will all of you who see beach users as "selfish" and "evil" in this debate. You think those seals are "community pets" of La Jolla. They are not, they are wild animals. Harbor seals are not a delicate species. They are adaptable and resilient. Nature is harsh, much harsher than civilized beach users. You may think about other "beach users" that stalked harbor seals in the past…. bears, coyotes, etc. that would kill seals and their pups. No such violence is happening on the beach these days.

      The Children's Pool is a people beach that we allow seals to be on. NOAA will make judgments if any legitimate harm is done to the seals; leave it to them. The City of San Diego should be concerned with promoting beach access to the Children's Pool for humans as it was and still is intended.

      • npk32

        Ok, I'm trying to look at this from your perspective so please correct me if I'm wrong.

        You don't care about the well-being of the seals at Casa Beach because this particular population is not vital to the well-being of harbor seals as a species? Is that right or am I misunderstanding?

        • cyberKICK

          Please quote exactly where he said he doesn't care about the well-being of the seals.

          • npk32

            If he had explicitly stated that he doesn't care about the seals I wouldn't have asked him to clarify his position. However, the quote below is what caused my initial confusion.

            "To answer your question, I am concerned with the well-being of the seals as far as it relates to the sustaining of their species. The use of the Children's Pool as a rookery is not vital to the well-being of harbor seals in San Diego, or the California stock, OR the global population."

            Again, does this mean Ryan doesn't care about the well-being of seals at Casa Beach because this particular population is not vital to the well-being of harbor seals as a species?

          • antera

            npk32, It's clear from your loaded question "are you concerned with the well-being of the seals?" and the fact you ignore Ryan's detailed, sensible reply, only to passive-aggressively come back with "Again, does this mean Ryan doesn't care about the well-being of seals…" that you're trying to substitute shaming for facts and logic. You would be more effective arguing the pro-seal case if you concentrated on facts and logic.

  10. BrenLiz

    I visited La Jolla back in April and I loved it!! This is not a scene you see everyday!! These Seals have been here for years and no harm has been done to them. This proves that People and animals can share such a wonderful place. Who cares if the pool was originally for children to enjoy….when I went there I saw a lot of children having a blast enjoying the view. Well, they can't swim in it you may say….There are plenty of beaches in San Diego where people can swim and enjoy the ocean as well. People should stop protesting and let nature do it's thing.

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