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Seal barrier comes down

The rope separating seals and beachgoers at the Children’s Pool came down on Friday, marking the end of pupping season.

Several Parks and Recreation Department employees walked onto the beach about 1:30 p.m. with shovels in hand and quietly removed the posts and signs warning people “to watch from a distance and avoid disturbing the seals.” The only people on the beach besides media representatives were a woman and her child, who kept their distance.

On the wall and the overlook above, tourists, pro-seal activists and a Friends of the Seals docent watched and talked about what it all meant as police looked on.

The temporary rope had been up since Dec. 15 when the pupping season started. Whether the rope will go up in the future is up to the courts.

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Cindy Benner, president of the Friends of the Seals, said they would have docents at the pool from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to make sure “people exert a little extra care as far as not approaching the seals. … They frighten easily. People should respect them.”

Word was out that the rope would come down on Friday, but the exact time was not announced. One very avid pro-seal activist, who is part of a regular monitoring group that keeps watch overnight, arrived there about 8 a.m. Friday morning and called others when the parks workers and police arrived to alert them the move was imminent.

Capt. Shelley Zimmerman of the police department’s Northern Division, who stood unobtrusively nearby with several officers, said they were there “to keep the peace and make sure that people know the beach is always open.”

She noted that even when the rope was up access to the water was allowed as long as people didn’t harass the animals.

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She noted that the group’s Web site,

www.friendsoftheseals.org

, has a list of viewing tips.