Letters to the Editor: Regarding dying sea lions: Let nature take its course!


I’m writing to comment on Stephen Roberts’ letter regarding the sea lions at La Jolla Cove. Bravo! Finally someone has thought this problem through. While it is heartbreaking to see the starving pups dying on the beach, “saving them” is not the answer. Human interference is wrong, especially when it will make matters even worse in the future. What will happen when all those “saved” animals are returned to areas that cannot sustain the populations they currently have? This needs to stop. On another note, with reference to the “baby lobsters” on La Jolla beaches, I believe they are Pleuroncodes planipes, better known as pelagic red crabs, or tuna crabs. They appear almost annually on local beaches and are a favorite food of tuna and other pelagic fishes (hence the name).

Barb Pebley

Get rid of the sea lions before they draw sharks

There is a major situation in San Diego concerning the sea lions at La Jolla Cove. These animals are now multiplying at an alarming rate. SeaWorld has rescued so many starving sea lion pups, nearly doubling in number, every month. La Jolla Light has been covering it. Last week, a reader wrote that we should just let the pups die, which is the law of nature. The bad thing about that is what happens to the dead sea lions? The local Great White sharks regard baby sea lions as their favorite easy meal. Unfortunately, all of this adversely affects people in the area. The Cove has become a huge sea lion rookery. Imagine the Great Whites waiting all around the Cove for the baby sea lions, just like they do at the Farralon Islands and the South African reef, which you see in documentaries. When we lose a swimmer or a tourist or two, imagine what will happen to San Diego tourists’ favorite pastime? My guess is they will not stay or even visit San Diego!

Further, the stench from their excrement and afterbirth has been destroying businesses. I can’t imagine eating dinner at a Cove restaurant with that smell; I’m sure you can’t even taste your food.

I grew up in La Jolla and have spent the last 45 years at the Cove. Like many others, I swim the mile-to-mile markers there, for exercise and preparation for the rough water swims. Tourists from all over the world come to enjoy the water and the schools of fish there, which are right next to the shore where children can snorkel and view them in their natural environment —and when you can do this year-round without a wetsuit, it’s a situation unique to the West Coast.

Finally, I’m sure you can figure out where the rotten excrement and afterbirth go … that’s into the water where all of us swim. (And that’s in addition to the fresh excrement the sea lions expel right next to us in the water!) This will draw sharks because their sense of smell can detect the odor from a mile away or more. It’s only a matter of time before they come in and attack the sea lions more, as well as the people swimming offshore. There were three or four Great White sightings in the last couple of years. I remember about 10 years ago when the gillnet fishing boats were allowed to fish along the coast, they caught baby Great Whites in their nets off Blacks Beach.

I’ve been attacked a couple of times, most frightening was when an 800-pound bull sea lion was trying to mate, I assume. I was in the shallows and he came flying up to me with his mouth open to within a foot of my face, most definitely very upset.

I’d like to see SeaWorld catch and relocate the Cove sea lions to San Clemente Island where the conditions are the same as La Jolla, except sea lions will find more food and less people there. This needs to be done soon or it will result in the point of no return, when San Diego gets an international reputation for Great White shark attacks!

Robert Fletcher

City faces pricey lawsuits over sea lion situation

The City of San Diego is negligent in not handling the sea lion challenges at La Jolla Cove. A lawsuit has been filed against the city by a group of La Jolla business owners trying to eliminate the stench originating from sea lion fecal material. The city has the absolute authority under section 109(h) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to remove the sea lions any time. It does not need a permit; it does not have to notify NOAA. The suit was filed because the city failed to take affirmative action to correct this financial, environmental and potential health risk to humans. This lack of action will continue to cause the city to expend funds to defend indefensible actions.

The risk to the city is not from the stench, per se, it is from the animals themselves. The city has attempted to resolve the situation by opening the fence above the rookery and allowing citizens to walk near the sea lions. This action is a violation of MMPA section 109(a). But NOAA will not monitor the city’s actions with respect to any marine mammal within its purview.

There are several potentially serious financial risks to the city. Encouraging citizens to harass wild marine mammals presents monumental risks to human health and welfare.

Anyone infected at that site with a known mammalian pathogen will blame the sea lions and then the city for failing to fulfill its health and safety responsibilities.

Risks arise from approaching a bull sea lion guarding his harem. These 600-pound animals with two-inch incisors charge quickly. The outcome is predictable and not very pretty. This scenario is bound to happen sooner or later. It has happened elsewhere.

Eventually, someone will fall off of the rocks into the water and become grievously injured, either because of sheer stupidly or as an act to avoid a hostile sea lion. The city will be held responsible. If the sea lions are not removed from the Cove, their presence will be an open invitation to Great White sharks that food is available there.

Swimmers routinely swim from the Cove to Scripps Pier crossing over the mouth of an underwater canyon known to researchers as a white shark nursery domain. A dark wetsuit silhouette, when viewed from below by an “ambush” predator, looks like a marine mammal in distress and an easy target for a hungry, Great White shark. And when (not if, but when) that happens, the city will face a monumental lawsuit.

City officials cannot claim ignorance, since they were informed of the potential problem at least a decade ago. Great White sharks do exist in waters off La Jolla. Photographs have been taken at the Children’s Pool of harbor seals “hit” by Great Whites, but made it back to shore before becoming lunch.

Seal activists claim the seals were run over by boats and the wounds made by boat propellers, but there is a monumental difference between propeller wounds on a marine mammal and the well-documented, distinctive tooth marks of a shark.

I do not want to see my tax dollars going to pay for avoidable liability because the city did not take proper precautions. The time has come for action at both the La Jolla Cove and Children’s Pool

David W. Valentine Ph.D. Retired Marine Scientist

Solution for soiled sidewalks?

I spotted this dispenser in Point Loma (pictured at right) and was wondering if we could get some for the popular dog-walking trails in La Jolla? Similar ones are sold for $109 each (three for $102 each) at and described as “Tough powder-coated aluminum. Locking front panel. Includes 400 bags.”

And has other models for $119 each. What do you think, homeowner groups and Village merchants?

Barb Brown

Setting the record straight

It would be even more interesting if the historians actually taught history rather than fiction. In regard to the advance on the Holocaust discussion series in the Feb. 19 La Jolla Light, there was no such entity as the “Polish slave labor camp at Starachowice.”

There were several labor camps in the locality, but they were set up and run by Germans — the people who invaded and occupied Poland in 1939.

Mieczyslaw de Woldan

Inga did nice job on polio story

I’d like to thank and congratulate Inga for her Feb. 26 Light column on polio and vaccination. I think it’s very appalling that a major accomplishment of modern medicine is being challenged today by people who think themselves well informed. These people are putting their children and others in harm’s way. Bravo, Inga, for tackling this important issue.

Laura Corral