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Community View: Seals have a place in history

By Philomène Offen

In the continuing saga of The People vs. Pinnipeds, I had occasion this last week to be sorting through files at the La Jolla Historical Society office as part of a volunteer project.

One of the articles I came upon was a San Diego Union clipping/display ad dated Jan. 30, 1927 - four years before the Children’s Pool was created - from the O.W. Cotton Real Estate company selling $750 60-foot lots in “Monte Costa,” an area that from the map appears to encompass Bird Rock and perhaps some area north. (The clipping predicts that “once the big paving and improvement program is on its way then lot values will start on a big upswing.”)

The tract manager, a Mr. McBain, extols the virtues of the area as follows: “If you like entertainment, you should have been here yesterday. Early in the morning a school of at least two hundred sea lions came to that rock, swam about it, dived off it, basked in the sun, sang solos, sextettes and choruses, without piano accompaniment, notes or music.

I am not much of a critic on classical opera, but for a chorus of seals, I really think they did very well. About 3:00 p.m. a large whale put in an appearance, swimming in among the breakers apparently intent on getting a front seat and if spouting water is a whale’s method of expressing appreciation, he certainly enjoyed the concert.”

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Fortunately he wasn’t plugged into his MP3 player or he might have missed the whole thing. La Jolla now thinks it has a seal problem. The seals are clear they have a people problem. Eighty-two years after this delightful account, the seals have sunk from coastal real estate promoters to the Rodney Dangerfields of local aquatics: can’t get no respect.

Philomène Offen is a Bird Rock resident.