Emotions flare over seals

Human activity is heating up over harbor seals at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool now that legislation has been introduced to make seal habitation an allowable use there.

“There have been reports of escalating verbal altercations at Children’s Pool,” La Jolla Shores Association member Mary Coakley said at the community advisory group’s meeting last week.

She also said seals are spreading into surrounding areas.

“They’ve been at the Cove, on South Casa Beach by the tidepools and at the Shores,” she said.

Erin Demorest of Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s office said a seal advocate reportedly was telling people at Children’s Pool the beach had been closed by the parks department.

“I’m 100 percent certain the director of Parks and Recreation would never tell a private citizen to shut down the beach,” she said.

Capt. Shelly Zimmerman of San Diego Police Department’s Northern Division confirmed that an increased number of calls have been coming in about seal confrontations at the pool.

“Nothing that has happened has surprised us,” she added, noting a protocol is in place for handling such issues.

“We respond to calls of disturbances and allegations of criminal conduct at Children’s Pool,” she said. “The goal of the San Diego Police Department is to minimize the potential for human confrontation by maintaining peace and order during human-to-human and human-to-animal contact on and around the beach.”

Zimmerman added there have been complaints of attempts to block access to the beach.

“We’ve also had calls regarding people yelling at each other,” she added.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has primary jurisdiction over enforcing allegations of human misconduct pertaining to seals or other marine mammals protected by federal law.

“We confer with NOAA anytime there is crime perpetrated against marine mammals,” Zimmerman said. “We encourage all people to respect, and not inhibit in any way, the right and freedom of all people to legally occupy Children’s Pool and adjacent land.”

Besides seals, the Shores association dealt with a number of other matters at its March 11 meeting.

-Chairman Jim Heaton expressed doubt that the kayak lottery, held at the insistence of lifeguards to rein in the abundance of kayaks which they see as a public safety threat, will work because ways will be found to circumvent restrictions.

“This thing is flawed and you’re going to see a lot of very creative approaches (to getting around it),” he said.

Heaton added illicit “entrepreneuring” may be spreading to activities other than kayaking.

“Recently, people were renting surfboards across from the beach out of private homes,” he said.

-Coakley reported the group is working with a law firm to form a 501c3 nonprofit organization to be named Friends of La Jolla Shores to allow the group “a vehicle for accepting funds and dispersing them.”

-Association members John Metzger and Pat Nissan reported preliminary plans by La Jolla Shores business district to host a “Spring Fling” community celebration may be in jeopardy because the person who spearheaded it previously can’t participate this year.

-April 30 to May 3 have been tentatively selected as a “community build” weekend to construct playground equipment at Kellogg Park replacing that which was removed by the city last year.

About 100 community volunteers are needed in the effort. If you want to help call Coakly at (619) 840-0250 or e-mail