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Pelicans are packing La Jolla’s Children’s Pool, but this pod is no problem, expert says

A flock of seagulls? No, it's more like a huge pod of pelicans at the Children's Pool in La Jolla.
(Courtesy of Tony Gild)

A recent big pod, or if you prefer, squadron of brown pelicans at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla has caused some residents to wonder whether all is right in the ecosystem.

Many sent photos to the La Jolla Light of the throng standing and swimming all over the beach in what seemed to be larger numbers than ever.

“We frequent this area and we have never seen such a large pod of pelicans in and around the Children’s Pool,” resident Lisa Bartzokas said last week.

However, Tammy Russell, a Ph.D. candidate in biological oceanography at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, says the avian assemblage isn’t cause for concern.

From The Cove south, La Jolla is a popular roosting site for brown pelicans, Russell said, though they typically are concentrated at The Cove. “Seasonally, the area is full of the pelicans just posting up there until they go out … foraging again,” she said.

This pod of pelicans is no cause for concern, according to Tammy Russell of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
This pod of pelicans pictured April 5 is no cause for concern, according to Tammy Russell, a Ph.D. candidate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.
(Courtesy of Lisa Bartzokas)

But some residents worried whether the harbor seals that use the Children’s Pool beach to haul out are being affected.

On April 7, Ann Dynes, a member of the La Jolla Parks & Beaches board, said the pelicans “took over the beach and young seals were unable to land back on land.”

Russell said, however, that “both seals and sea lions wouldn’t be bothered by the pelicans.” She added that the pinnipeds “are more than capable of moving them out of the way if they want to come to shore.”

Pelicans greatly outnumber harbor seals in this photo at the Children's Pool earlier this month.
(Courtesy of Tony Gild)

Russell said the pelicans used to be endangered but have rebounded in recent years. “[It’s] awesome to see them in good numbers,” she said.

Incidentally, around 5 p.m. April 11, hardly a pelican could be found at the Children’s Pool. Go figure.

Late in the afternoon April 11, harbor seals had the Children's Pool beach to themselves, without pelicans.
Late in the afternoon April 11, harbor seals had the Children’s Pool beach to themselves, without the pelicans that have been flocking there in big numbers lately.
(Elisabeth Frausto)