Seal supporters protest shared use at pool

Seal sympathizers rallied in La Jolla Saturday to call for end of shared use at Children's Pool.

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

Chanting “shared use is abuse” and “just one beach for the seals,” more than 30 seal sympathizers rallied in La Jolla Saturday marching down to the Children’s Pool carrying signs advocating creation of a marine mammal sanctuary there.

Organizers said in a press release the event was a “rally and march to stop the harassment of seal rookery at Children’s Pool/Casa Beach in La Jolla.”

They have complained about those who advocate public access to the beach who in recent weeks have been crossing over the guideline rope meant to separate humans and marine mammals. The rope has been up since Dec. 15 when the seals’ pupping season started and is set to come down on May 15.

“Shared use, it’s not working to protect the seals or the natural ecology, so we’re here calling for ending harassment of the seals,” said Tim Rusmisel, who organized the rally which included representatives of Sea Shepherd, the Animal Protection and Rescue League (APRL) and La Jolla Friends of the Seals which operates a docent program at the pool.

Rusmisel noted a small group of people have been moving onto Children’s Pool beach and flushing seals into the water “so that they can set up a barbecue and play Frisbee.”

“Under federal law, that’s harassment,” he said. “We’re asking for the rules and laws to be enforced, keep the rope up, and eventually, we’d like to see the idea of turning the pool into a sanctuary. So we’re here today to raise awareness about those ideas and rally public support.”

“It’s been so accelerated this year, the violations,” said Ellen Shively, president of La Jolla Friends of the Seals. “They’ve (pro-access proponents) gotten organized.”

“It was weak,” said David Pierce, director on the San Diego Council of Divers, reacting to Saturday’s pro-seal rally. “They alert the media because that’s their only friend. I heard people laughing at them as they were walking through the streets. We’re for shared use, that’s city and state policy and law. They amended the trust by lobbying (State) Sen. Christine Kehoe and that created a shared-use beach. It created everything they asked for. Or is it?”

The group of divers was on the beach — for the most part outside the barrier — before the march started at Girard Avenue and Prospect Street. Then one of them walked to the beach in his wetsuit, scaring some seals into the water before turning around to walk back to the area on the beach where they had gathered.

A man walks towards the water on Saturday as the seals move quickly away from him. Photo: Kathy Day

Later, one man posted a sign inside the rope barrier reading “Beach open for swimming and diving. Respect the wildlife.”

Before the seal proponents arrived at the pool, a larger group divers left the beach and entered the water from South Casa Beach. Still later, several others skirted along the far end of the rope — where there were no seals — as close to the bluff as they could to get into the water.

Meanwhile, all of their actions were videotaped by the seal proponents, who made a point of letting TV crews at the area above the beach know when the marchers were there.

At one point, one of them even made a point of telling one cameraman to be sure and take pictures of the divers on the beach.

There were occasional heated discussions about whose point of view was right and a silent moment with fists raised among those who want people banned from the beach because “noise upsets the seals,” one said.

People supporting the seals raise their hands as a sign of their unity. Photo: Kathy Day

Back up at the march, Shively said shared use has had negative consequences on marine mammals.

“What I’ve seen is fewer pups this year and a lot fewer pups and moms interacting during the pupping season,” she said.

Shively would like to see shared use at the pool “reinterpreted.”

“If we had a marine mammal park for the protection of seals and the education of people, it would be shared in the way of people being able to observe seals and would also give the seals the very-deserved respite they need,” she said.

“They (people) have plenty of other beach, why do they have to bother the seals in that one little spot?” asked Rosemary Bernier, who, accompanied by her family vacationing from Tampa, Fla., happened on seal supporters gathering this morning at 10 a.m. at Girard Avenue and Prospect Street. “People should keep fighting for the seals.”

Martha Platt of San Diego, a volunteer with Save the Seals, said she’s been “startled” by the level of harassment and disrespect for the harbor seals down on the beach.

“In an era where we are learning to share with animal species — this is really shocking,” she said.

Shively was passing out pro-seal signs and photographs taken by La Jollan James Hudnall, a longtime seal sympatizer, showing people crowding seals on Children’s Pool beach.

“It’s a small group of outspoken people who are bullies and who just want power for themselves,” commented Pam Harris who turned out to protest shared use at Casa Beach.

Tina Minier, a docent for La Jolla Friends of Seals, said she became aware of the problem at the pool walking by the beach seeing “seals being harassed by angry people who don’t want them on the beach.”

“Environmentally, morally and ethically, that beach belongs to the animals and humans can go to any of the other 77 beaches that we have here,” she said. “They come here to nurse and have their babies and to rest, and I think we should respect them for that.”

Related posts:

  1. Sides at Children’s Pool clearly drawn at Sunday seal rally
  2. Children’s Pool ranger transfers out as confrontations continue
  3. Free speech is latest battleground at Children’s Pool
  4. City hires permanent ranger for La Jolla Children’s Pool
  5. Bird Rock Elementary has one bloomin’ classroom

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Posted by Dave Schwab on May 7, 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

32 Comments for “Seal supporters protest shared use at pool”

  1. fishinwithagun

    Well La Jolla Light, you couldn't have written a better "press release" for the activist crazies than if they were to have crafted it themselves. Some journalism. Fully 5/6 quotes in the article are from one side.

    And what about this:

    “It’s a small group of outspoken people who are bullies and who just want power for themselves,” commented Pam Harris who turned out to protest shared use at Casa Beach."

    - David Schwab, are you aware that "Casa beach" is to the south of Children's Pool? In one quote you describe Children's Pool, and the next you transition into activist-speak when you say "turned out to protest shared use at Casa Beach." – CHILDREN'S POOL. THE BEACH IS CALLED THE CHILDREN'S POOL.

    • michael

      Activists like to use Casa instead of Children's Pool because it does not remind the public that Children's Pool was built for children and families to enjoy aquatic activities.
      NOT stand on the sidelines watching seals sleep and poop…

  2. LJdiver

    Hey Dave, did you even bother to check out who Tim Rusmisel really is? I think you might be surprised! Nice guy to have walking around La Jolla…not!

    Remember this essay by By Alixandria Foster, Junior, La Jolla High School.

    Return the Children's Pool to the Children
    Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009 | With almost 850 miles of open coastline, the single most controversial stretch is less than one-eighth of one mile in length. This beach, identified as Children's Pool or Casa Beach, is located in La Jolla, California, and has become one of the most hotly contested issues in decades. Pro-seal advocates argue that it is humans who are infringing on the seals natural territory. On the contrary, pro-public-access activists make the case that the pool was designed with swimmers and sunbathers, not seals, in mind. The question on everyone's mind is who should be permitted to use the beach, seals or swimmers?

    In any disagreement, the first solution that is conjured is usually some sort of compromise. In 2004, the city of San Diego, realizing the extent of the Children's Pool dispute, issued a compromise. The joint-use plan that the City Council fashioned involved harmonious beaching on the tiny strip of sand. Barriers would be put up down the middle of the beach, and theoretically, into the water, to separate the seals from the swimmers. The beach would also undergo an immense cleanup process, in order to remove the toxic excrement left by the seals. However, this compromise was never fully executed. The mere idea of sharing the beach only heightened the tensions between the warring factions, leaving both sides entirely unsatisfied.

    With the dispute 15 years in the making and with compromise no longer an option, the only reasonable option is to remove the seals. While the pro-seal advocates have several valid arguments, and only the best intentions, the facts support the pro-public access activists. In 1931, Children's Pool was created, meaning it is a manmade area, by building a breakwater. The wall was constructed via funds donated by socialite and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, with the prerequisite that the area would be a place for frolicking youngsters first learning to swim, young humans to be precise.

    Upon receiving the generous donation, San Diego, under Statute No. 937 of 1931, was given by the state, full responsibility to forever ensure that the designated area be reserved for its designated purpose: a wading pool for children, and a recreation area for swimmers and beach goers. The purposes for the constructed cove were made irrevocably and irrefutably clear by donator Scripps, and to accept her gift, yet dishonor her wishes is both illegal and immoral.

    Aside from the original intentions of the cove, a second point of contention is the excessive pollution caused by the seals. The tiny beach has been rated the worst-polluted beach in California, and is the only San Diego beach to receive failing scores from several clean-water organizations. This is because the man-made barrier creates virtually no water circulation to flush out the seal excrement. According to county health regulations, the highest ratio of coliform (colon-inhabiting bacteria) to milliliters of water that is safe for human contact is 200 to 100. At Children's Pool, there are frequent peaks of 16,000 coliform bacteria per 100 ml of water, meaning that the water is 80 times more polluted than what is regarded as safe for humans.

    • Savethebeach

      So LJDiver, who is Tim Rusmisel? What's the problem?

      • Davy Jones

        I Googled him and found out that he is a want-a-b photographer who takes picture through dirty car windows….

    • Savethebeach

      Can you enlighten us: what is the problem with Tim Rusmisel?

      • fishinwithagun

        Nothing wrong with Tim Rusmisel, and I would defend the right of anyone to free speech and peaceful assembly anywhere they please. I think both sides should refrain from personal attacks and unfair characterizations of each other. It's just that some people have certain reputations for tactics which have been previously found to be illegal and nobody wants to be harassed at home or have their property destroyed. As long as that is not going on, anyone can come to La Jolla and give their opinions, but I'd rather have them be promoting Children's Pool beach for its purposed use, a swimming and recreational pool for children and divers.

        The seal crazies that come from near and far need to let this issue rest. Let the feds do their job, if one needs to be done. Let the people have their beach. You animal rights activists have gotten lost on your way to the slaughterhouse. There is no animal cruelty in La Jolla, only peaceful coexistence with nature.

      • Davy Jones

        Who is Tim Rusmisel?

        A judge handed UCLA a big victory over its animal-rights tormentors in Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday. The judge’s order won’t be made public until sometime today, but here are the two most immediate effects:

        1) The personal information of UCLA researchers and administrators who were listed as “targets” on Web sites of animal-rights extremist groups—UCLA Primate Freedom Project, the Animal Liberation Brigade and the Animal Liberation Front—must be taken off those sites.

        2) Five animal rights protesters are now subject to a temporary restraining order that bans them from coming within 50 feet of UCLA researchers’ homes during the day, and within 150 feet at night. The ban applies to Linda Faith Greene, Hillary Roney, Kevin Olliff, Ramin Saber, and Tim Rusmisel. Notably, only these five were restricted, not all the protesters UCLA was pushing for.

        John Hueston, lawyer for the UC Regents, says researchers like Arthur Rosenbaum (an incendiary device was placed under his car by radicals but it failed to ignite) and Edythe London (her house was bombed with a Molotov cocktail device) can now sleep without overnight protesters screaming through bullhorns: “Burn this motherfucker down!”—apparently one of the group's favorite chants.

        Animal rights radical Jerry Vlasak, a one-time doctor who falsely testified to the U.S. Congress that he is a practicing physician at Loma Linda University medical center, and who acts as spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, predicts “absolutely” more violence against UCLA researchers who use animals. Vlasak has used his claim that he is a "practicing" medical doctor to gain national press. The Weekly has thus far been unable to locate any Southern California hospitals where Vlasak is actually practicing.

        Now Vlasak warns that the court's temporary restraining order is going to push the radicals off the streets and into illegal, violent "underground" activities. “There are hundreds more standing by to do business as usual,” Vlasak told the Weekly. “As far as aspects of the 'campaign' go, it’s not going to make any difference whatsoever.”

  3. nicole

    The best way to discredit someone is to attack their looks…how old are you? I'm pretty sure this article is about the seals, how about you stop attacking someone and focus on the topic..

  4. sealnutcracker

    Google the animal liberator, Tim Rusmisel and UCLA, and see what this guy is up to. UCLA got a restraining order to keep him and four others away after UCLA professors had their homes firebombed. The police should look into this criminal, run out of Los Angeles and brought to La Jolla by Friends of Seals and APRL.

    SDPD are you paying attention?

    Shively claims "fewer pups this year" and yet by their own count, this is a record year for seal births on this shared use beach. They claim 45 new pups even with all this human activity at the Pool. Hardly the evidence they need to prove harassment of seals when they keep having more and more babies on this beach. It is a sign of a health population of seals.

  5. Seal teem 6

    “It’s a small group of outspoken people who are bullies and who just want power for themselves,” commented Pam Harris who turned out to protest shared use at Casa Beach.
    She described Seal Watch to a Tee !!!

  6. LJdiver

    Continued from essay by By Alixandria Foster, Junior, La Jolla High School.

    Note to Light Staff…the links you said I should not post are the reference work from the essay. Anyway here is the rest of the essay.

    Some may assume that the pro-seal crowd is synonymous to a pro-environment outlook. However, the presence of the seals is creating an underground desert wasteland that is extending further and further from the protected harbor, closer to the nearby protected waters of La Jolla Cove. The contamination levels of the water combined with the seals' consumption has left the sea floor of Children's Pool barren.

    Similar is the damage caused by the seals' feeding habits. The average harbor seal requires approximately 15 pounds of fish and crustaceans per day. With the estimated 100 seals currently residing at Children's Pool, that is 1500 pounds of marine life consumed each day. La Jolla Cove is home to many endangered species of fish and ocean wildlife, and the seal population is decimating the fragile species that inhabit the wildlife preserve.

    The only suitable course of action for the Children's Pool is the removal or relocation of the seals. There are thousands of safe harbors for Pacific Seals along the California Coast, and the robust creatures will not suffer if they are forced to leave. Once the seals have been blocked from the beach, a water purifying program must be adopted in order to remove the contaminants from the vicinity. Only then can the Children's Pool be returned to its rightful, intended owners: the children.

    Alixandria Foster is a junior at La Jolla High School. Her essay reached the finals of the 2009 Essay Contest. The other finalists' pieces will run this week with the winner's appearing Friday, Feb. 20.

    • npk32

      Well-written, thought-provoking, and without a hint of conspiracy theories, name-calling, or hatred. So it is possible to support shared use and present a rational argument? Amazing! See what the rest of you guys have to look forward to when you finally reach the 11th grade reading level?

  7. Guest

    So just to clarify, that photo in this article that was taken last Saturday showing the wet suit guy flushing the seals into the water, is that an illustration of what the pro access folks mean by "peaceful coexistence with nature"?

    • fishinwithagun

      Guest, you're such a turd… do you think nature is in peaceful coexistence with itself? Hell no… nature EATS each other. Humans at Children's Pool coexist with nature by using the same beach. We don't let the seals shut down a beach that is man made and for humans. Neither do we throw rocks at them or kill them. Shared use is co-existence…. remember, the city was going to physically disperse the seals but were sued. The current situation is a balance that is co-existence.

      For animal rights crazies such as yourself, your call for "co-existence" is really a call for subordination of human interests to animals. Sorry, 98% of Americans just don't buy that, only fringe crazies. You live in a little bubble that is not reality.

      • guest

        Thank you for the clarification. I had understood that the official position was PEACEFUL coexistence. Does seem like the guy in the photo was going out of his way to disturb the seals. Please note that I am not calling you any names. Both the seal activists AND the pro access people could be acting better in my view.

      • npk32

        Wow, after reading that I just realized that your continued comments on this issue can only help the opposing viewpoint. Carry on sir!

      • anon

        I think Guest has a point. Disliking seeing seals being unnecessarily disturbed doesn’t make one an animal activist. Both the pro access people and the animal rights activists have acted abysmally. One has to wonder how many of them even live in La Jolla. But both groups have managed to embarrass our community on a national level. That line “We don’t let the seals shut down a beach that is man made and for humans” is sadly chilling.

        • npk32

          Agreed and agreed. However, I find the comment below much more chilling.

          "For animal rights crazies such as yourself, your call for 'co-existence' is really a call for subordination of human interests to animals."

          However, it can't be a bad thing for someone who advocates for shared use to go around saying things like that in a public forum. If I were on the fence about this issue and came across a comment like that I'd be incredibly skeptical about aligning my views with someone who feels this way.

      • MiddleGround

        Re: “We don’t let the seals shut down a beach that is man made and for humans.” Not hard to see why things are such a mess down there with this John Wayne attitude.

        • La Jolla Resident

          Did the liberal crybaby train just roll into town? You're making a big deal out of nothing…The seals are fine, their not in danger…go have a vegan muffin and calm down

      • RealityCheck

        Fishinwithagun, you are one slippery character. In an earlier post to this article, you concluded: "There is no animal cruelty in La Jolla, only peaceful coexistence with nature." Yet when another poster asked if the photo of the guy harassing the seals was an example of that, you threw a name-calling ranting fit and said "Guest, you're such a turd… do you think nature is in peaceful coexistence with itself? Hell no… nature EATS each other." You are contradicting your own posts! I totally agree with npk32 that it’s nice to see you “we are one with the seals and love them” guys show your true colors.

        • npk32

          And who could forget this gem from a few days ago: " I think both sides should refrain from personal attacks and unfair characterizations of each other." Followed by the "turd" comment the next day.

          I would say that this seems hypocritical but I don't think he actually reads anything he writes.

  8. Guest

    Irony much?

    A quote from the article "a silent moment with fists raised among those who want people banned from the beach because “noise upsets the seals,” one said."

    So, the noise upsets the seal huh? OK. I can get behind that. So riddle me this then La Jolla Light/APRL/La Jolla Friends of the seals/sealwatch:
    If noise upsets the seals so much why is Dorota Valle shouting down at the beach with a bullhorn so much? If noise upsets the seals, why has APRL's Bryan Pease been down there with a bullhorn on a couple occasions recently?

    I don't get it. The animal rights activists say the noise bothers the seals but don't mind if the noise is coming from a fellow animal rights activist?

  9. Resident of La Jolla

    Are the residents and Merchants of La Jolla supporting these animal extremist and
    eco terrorists, I think not…
    People of La Jolla it has been long enough that these seal activist has been holding our beach hostage at Children's Pool, these activist, the way they treat our tourist and our selfs by screaming and yelling, throwing rock, assaults, name calling, stolen beach umbrellas and stun gun attacks and trashing our fine community. They have no permits to be there and thumb there noses at our police officers.
    It's time WE, the residents of La Jolla, stand up and rally our troops and march through the streets and end at the pool to protest them !

    • michael

      I agree with everything except "march through the streets"
      That seal activist march/rally was the most obnoxious thing La Jolla has seen in a long time

    • guest

      Animal extremist? Because theyre protesting against shared use and want a seal sanctuary?

      Funny use of that word isn't it? Id look it up in the dictionary if I was you.

      • ljdiver

        The correct term is Animal Enterprise Terrorism. It may not be a farm or research lab but the goal is the same, attack and destroy anyone who does not agree with the animal rights meme. This includes bullying business's into compliance.

        • npk32

          The correct term is actually free speech. The goal is not to attack or destroy anyone. The goal is to protect this particular community of seals from unwarranted harassment.

          Shared use advocates need to stick to the facts and stop trying to label everyone who disagrees with them as a terrorist.

          • ljdiver

            Funny how you want to follow the US Constitution but ignore the State of California Constitution or the CALIFORNIA COASTAL ACT.
            Seals are not in need of "special protection" no study has shown that they are in danger. Their numbers are growing.



            Section 25. The people shall have the right to fish upon and from the public lands of the State and in the waters thereof, excepting upon lands set aside for fish hatcheries, and no land owned by the State shall ever be sold or transferred without reserving in the people the absolute right to fish thereupon; and no law shall ever be passed making it a crime for the people to enter upon the public lands within this State for the purpose of fishing in any water containing fish that have been planted therein by the State; provided, that the legislature may by statute, provide for the season when and the conditions under which the different species of fish may be taken.

            ARTICLE 10, WATER

            Section 4. No individual, partnership, or corporation, claiming or possessing the frontage or tidal lands of a harbor, bay, inlet, estuary, or other navigable water in this State, shall be permitted to exclude the right of way to such water whenever it is required for any public purpose, nor to destroy or obstruct the free navigation of such water; and the Legislature shall enact such laws as will give the most liberal construction to this provision, so that access to the navigable waters of this State shall be always attainable for the people thereof.


            Coastal Act Sections 30210 through 30213, as well as Sections 30220 and 30221 specifically protect public access and recreation.

             Section 30210 In carrying out the requirement of Section 4 of Article X of the California Constitution, maximum access, which shall be conspicuously posted, and Recreational opportunities shall be provided for all the people consistent with public safety needs and the need to protect public rights, rights of private property owners, and natural resource areas from overuse.

             Section 30211: requires that "Development shall not interfere with the public's right of access to the sea…"

             Section 30212(a): Public access from the nearest public roadway to the shoreline and along the coast shall be provided in new development projects

             Section 30213: Lower cost visitor and recreational facilities shall be protected, encouraged, and, where feasible, provided. Developments providing public recreational opportunities are preferred.

             Section 30220: Coastal areas suited for water-oriented recreational activities that cannot readily be provided at inland water areas shall be protected for such uses.

             Section 30221: Oceanfront land suitable for recreational use shall be protected for recreational use and development unless present and foreseeable future demand for public or commercial recreational activities that could be accommodated on the property is already adequately provided for in the area.

          • npk32

            "Funny how you want to follow the US Constitution but ignore the State of California Constitution or the CALIFORNIA COASTAL ACT."

            I'm no constitutional scholar but I'm pretty sure the right to free speech is guaranteed in the California Constitution as well. The language in the State Constitution and the CCA can be interpreted to support either side of this debate so citing out of context sections is pointless.

            "Seals are not in need of 'special protection' no study has shown that they are in danger. Their numbers are growing."

            No one's saying that harbor seals, as a species, are in danger. Citing "special protection" from the CCA has no relevance here. Thanks for sticking to facts at least.

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