I know, I know, yet another CityBeat piece from me. But this one goes pretty directly to what Miriam and I want to do with this blog, which is talk about science and technology and how it applies to the world (along with pointing out some silliness along the way). This week I published a piece introducing readers to the Marine Life Protection Act, a law requiring the California Fish and Game Commission to draw a map of protected areas up and down the California coast. As you might imagine, that tends to be a controversial process. Here in southern California, the process is only just beginning, and the players are marshaling their forces. I plan to cover how the MPAs are drawn as the committees meet as best I can. I realize that not all readers will be interested in that stuff, and that’s fine. All of the posts related to the MPAs be slugged “MPA Madness”. If you see that phrase, and you’re not interested, skip the post.
Will state marine protections save Children’s Pool for pinnipeds?
By Eric Wolff
If the seals of La Jolla could follow the news, they’d be packing their extra fish into cardboard boxes about now and checking craigslist for a nice rental rock in Monterey or Santa Barbara. They would know that, by now, the courts have spoken, and their fate is practically sealed: The city has already hired a consultant to do the environmental study on the effects of dredging and cleaning the sand in Children’s Pool.
For more than a decade, harbor seals have had full use of the beach at Children’s Pool for birthing and raising their pups from May to December. Federal and local laws protected them from human interference, and a seawall protected them from stormy waters. People took to strolling out on the wall just to stare at them, and before long they were a tourist attraction.
However, Ellen Browning Scripps’ purpose in building the seawall in 1931 was to create a safe haven for juvenile humans, not seals. When the seals took up residence, their excrement fouled sand and surf. Animal feces tends to create an unhealthy environment for children. In 2004, some San Diegans took the city to court to compel them to dredge and clean the sand, a move that would simultaneously make it less habitable for seals and safer for the kids. In 2005, a judge agreed with them, and in June of this year, an appeals court agreed with the judge. The seals’ days in La Jolla are numbered, and that number is 548.
Then again, the seals have some extremely dedicated defenders, people committed to preserving Children’s Pool as a seal maternity ward. The Friends of the La Jolla Seals, having been beaten up and down the judicial system, realized they have another option: Thet think they can take advantage of a 1999 law only now being implemented that will create a series of marine parks and preserves up and down the California coast.
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