Unfortunately There’s a Much Larger Problem Now
by Steve Burns
La Jolla residents, long upset over the harbor seal rookery at the Children’s Pool, woke up last Friday wondering if nature had finally solved the “problem.” To their amazement, not a single harbor seal was to be found, neither on the beach of the Children’s Pool, nor on Seal Rock just a few yards from the shore line.
Could it be the controversy had resolved itself? Could the Children’s Pool finally be returned to its rightful owners; the people of La Jolla?
As the day wore on, not a seal was to be sighted anywhere in the vicinity of the Pool, or La Jolla Cove. Judge Yuri Hoffman, the Superior Court Judge who ordered the seals forcibly removed in 2009, had this to say about the turn of events, “By golly, I guess Mother Nature agreed with me on this one, but she sure took her sweet time doing something about it. Isn’t that just like a woman, though?”
Saturday dawned and still no seals in the area. City Lifeguards at the Children’s Pool did, however, report seeing some very large shapes in the water off La Jolla Shores. Swimmers were called ashore briefly while the SDPD Helicopter made several sweeps of the area, but other than a pod of dolphins, nothing was spotted from the air. The growing number of dolphins in the area have generated concern among La Jolla residents as well.
“They are creating a nuisance by swimming in the same water as us,” said Abigail Periwinkle, fifth generation La Jollan and anti-seal activist.
We contacted Dr. Bernard “Sandy” Beech at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, to ask him what might have happened to the seals. “I hate to anthropomorphize, but may be they just got fed up with San Diego and all of its stupid, selfish people.” He said only half-jokingly. “Actually, something has scared them off, something really big too. The lifeguards were reporting something large in the water earlier today, and I’ll bet we have a great white out there looking for a meal.” He told us this is not the normal time of year for great white shark sightings, “but then they don’t really have to follow the rules, do they?”
As it turns out the reprieve was short lived. Those large shapes in the water were not sharks, but in fact seals. Only this time it is not harbor seals.
La Jolla residents were awakened Sunday morning stunned to hear the bellowing of a colony of over a 300 elephant seals at the Children’s Pool, and the Cove and all the surrounding beaches. It is rutting season for these 3000-5000 pound behemoths and their roars can be heard as far away as La Jolla Village and Mt. Soledad.
Dr. Beech tells us they are going to be with us awhile. “The gestation period is two years for elephant seals and once they have mated, they stay put until the pups are born. Then it is another year and a half before the pups are ready to leave the area. But by that time other seals are cycling into season. It may be years before they leave the area, if ever.” Do they ever quiet down? “Never.” He told us with a sardonic chuckle.
Later on Sunday, overlooking the cacophony of the pinniped orgy, one could see the surrounding water turning a darker shade of brown moment by moment. “It’s just nasty.” Sally Updike, a member of the Save the Pool for People Brigade. Sally’s five year old daughter, Tiffany, was quick to point out to us, “they have real big wieners too.”
We got a hold of Mayor Filner later in the day who was kind enough to speak with us about the new seal controversy and what he might do. “Only in La Jolla would seals on a beach be a controversy, so, no, I am doing nothing about it.” He thought for moment and then finished by saying “I’ll probably get blamed for it anyway…and if not me, it’s probably President Obamas fault.”