The annual closure of the Children’s Pool beach in La Jolla to give harbor seals space to give birth and wean their young began on Friday.
People are kept away from the beach during “pupping season,” which runs from Dec. 15 to May 15. Visitors are generally discouraged from getting too close to the seals during other times, as well.
The Children’s Pool has been the site of a long-running conflict between animal rights activists and advocates for beach access. It has led to numerous court and City Council hearings.
The area was deeded to the city of San Diego in 1931 as a safe swimming spot for youth, but seals began taking over the spot in the 1990s.
California Coastal Commission staff contend that water quality is poor in the area because of the seals, so it is no longer a good place for swimming. On Wednesday, the commission granted a request by the city to be allowed to install a pair of gates on stairs that lead down to the beach.
Opponents of the ban contend the seal population is exploding and they are not a threatened or endangered species.
City officials said that park rangers and lifeguards will continue to monitor the Children’s Pool during the beach closure to keep the public and wildlife safe.
— City News Service