La Jolla Seal Pupping Season is Here!

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

One of my favorite places in San Diego is one I don’t get to often enough: Casa Beach (or “seal beach” or “the children’s pool”, as some of you might know it) in La Jolla.

There’s a long been a big controversy surrounding the beach shared by both humans and harbor seals. As the only harbor seal rookery (or breeding ground) south of Carpinteria Seal Preserve in Santa Barbara County, it’s a safe place for the seals to rest and haul themselves out of the ocean, which “they need to do 30-40% of the time in order to survive”, according to the La Jolla Friends of the Seals.

Many locals, especially some long-time La Jolla residents, believe it has always been and should always be a respite for humans only, primarily for children.  While the land was initially a natural beach, it was granted by the State of California to the City of San Diego as public land.  In 1931, money was subsequently donated by Ellen Browning Scripps so that it could become a “safe haven” for children to swim and play and a breakwater wall was constructed.  They re-dubbed the beach The Childrens’ Pool.  However, there are still many misconceptions about the true purpose of the land.

For years, in virtually every discussion about the seal controversy, reference has been made to a “Children’s Pool.”  This mischaracterization has been used by anti-seal forces to create the impression that San Diego benefactor Ellen Browning Scripps wanted Casa Beach devoted exclusively to the use of children.

The fact is that Scripps did not give the city any property in or on which to create a “children’s pool.”  On the contrary, it was the State of California, not Scripps, that conveyed property to the City of San Diego—but not for the sole purpose of creating a pool in which children could swim. (source)

In my opinion, while having a childrens’ beach is a lovely sentiment, I feel it’s rather selfish — yet another case of “Do It For the Children”.  Local children have eight other beaches in La Jolla alone in which to swim and some forget, no one is kicking them out of Casa Beach.  Conservationists and supporters are simply asking humans to share — a concept we teach our children in kindergarten.

Maps from the 1800’s note the area as “Seal Rock” and the seals were residents of the beach long before the wall was constructed and they continued to make their homes there afterward.  There are miles and miles of beaches for humans to enjoy in our fair city, it seems to take the seals home and nursey solely because we are the humans so we “get dibs” seems archaeic and ecologically irresponsible.

Mid-December through May marks the pupping season, or nursery time, at Casa Beach.  The La Jolla Friends of the Seals have managed, with much struggle, to have an annual roped-off area of beach from which humans must remain 300 feet (in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act), so that the seals may birth their pups without disturbance.

But please don’t let that deter you from witnessing and sharing one of the most amazing and adorable things our city has to offer.  La Jolla Friends of the Seals encourages you to visit the beach, just ask that we are respectful of the animals.  Bring your kids, even!  Sea World is great, but this is true wildlife, actual nature happening right in front of our eyes.

Sharing the beach with these beautiful, sweet and timid animals should be considered a privilege, not a burden to bear.  Please take a moment to visit the La Jolla Friends of the Seals website to learn more about the controversy and, especially if you are anti-seal or feel that humans “own” the beach, please read all the benefits to having the seals on Casa Beach (near the bottom of the page).  And check out all the news about the pups that have been born this season and on the beach over the years.  It’s hard to deny nature when you’re looking at those big eyes and tiny flippers.

If you’re a supporter, learn about ways you can help.  Welcome to San Diego, new seal pups!

1 Comment so far

  1. The Cottages on Government Way (unregistered) on October 26th, 2010 @ 9:37 am

    Doesn’t that photo of that cute pup just knock at your hearts’ doors? How could people even think of driving them away, much less claiming their habitat for such selfish purposes?

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