Letters to the Editor: June 12, 2008
Get over the sealsThere have been letters decrying the possible repatriation of seals to the wild to make Children’s Pool the world-famous gift to the children of San Diego it once was. I too would miss them, but it is wrong to continue to exploit them as a tourist attraction.
Children’s Pool is not a “natural rookery.” When the City wanted to make nearby Seal Rock a reserve and tourist attraction in ’92 the population there was irregular. Sea World runs the federal rescue and rehabiltation program from Mexico to San Clemente. Three-fourths of the hand fed, and bottle-fed rehabs were not taken back to their point of origin, but released in the proximity of Children’s Pool.
I have the federal data. Those rehabs found each other, had no fear of people, and went to Children’s Pool in spite of people there.
Authorities put up a rope to split the beach between seals and people, then County Health measured high colliform from seals and posted the beach as contaminated so the rope went the other way and closed the beach until 2003.
The Pool was already buried by a 9' deep sand dune after 65 years of city negligence. With the beach abandoned, seals had no reason not to join the rehabs.
Now we have seals trained to drop their wariness of humans. If you want to know what these seals are like, go in the water when they are not using most of the beach, (because most are still hardwired to scoot to water at the bat of an eye).
But in the water, it is another story. If you do something interesting one may imitate you. Don’t be alarmed if one presses his face on you, as they investigate with whiskers.
The portrayal of these animals as terrified and endangered keeps the donations flowing, and so you are discouraged from meeting them. But you can, you just have to get cold and wet. They don’t defend territories or maintain harems, so you are accepted as a slow, stupid marine mammal just for being there.