La Jolla is a coastal district of San Diego located northwest of downtown.
Its rugged seacoast, resorts, shopping, and culture make it an extremely
popular destination for visitors.
A very pleasant surprise awaits visitors to La Jolla. A corner of the shore,
known as Children's Pool Beach, has become a harbor seal haulout and rookery site. Here, wild
seals congregate without fear of human harassment. People are allowed to
mingle freely on this beach as long as they don't bother the seals. This
provides an excellent opportunity to take closeup shots of wild seals.
The breakwater was originally constructed in 1931 to create a sheltered beach for children.
Hence the name, Children's Pool Beach. However the seals found the pleasant beach to their
liking and took it over.
Controversy at Children's Pool Beach
A controversy has developed over the purpose of the beach. Harbor seal advocates want it to be treated as a marine mammal sanctuary, while Children's Pool advocates want to
preserve it for recreational swimming.
The presence of the seals has become a tourist draw, with many visitors coming to Children's Pool Beach just to see the seals.
Lifeguards and seal advocates monitor the beach to prevent interactions between visitors and the seals. Swimming is allowed but not recommended due high fecal coliform counts.
To return Children's Pool to its 1931 conditions would require the City to dredge and remove 75% of the sand which has built up in the pool over the past 78 years.
Various lawsuits, appeals, and state laws has been filed over these and other issues. On July 23, 2009, City officials were ready to scare off the seals with amplified dog barking sounds
until a Superior Court judge lifted his order that the city of San Diego disperse harbor seals from the beach at the Children's Pool in La Jolla.
Judge Yuri Hofmann, at the request of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, lifted his order in light of the new law giving the City Council the power to decide the best use of the cove, starting in January.
He set Oct. 6, 2009 as the next hearing on the two-decade dispute between people who say the beach should be for children and those who say the seals should be allowed to remain.
(Left) A happy seal snoozes contentedly away, oblivious to the camera a few feet from its face.
(Right) This wide-awake seal was more than happy to strike a pose for us.
(Left) A group of seals laze on the beach without concern for the tourists standing nearby. The group includes mothers with pups.
(Right) Those seals who prefer a little bit more privacy congregate on nearby Seal Rock which is perhaps 100 yards off the beach.