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Seals And Birds ‘Reek’ Havoc At La Jolla Cove

La Jolla cove offers some of the most breathtaking views in San Diego County. But some people say the area smells so bad, you have to hold your breath to take in the views.

Photo by Susan Murphy / KPBS

Above: Seals, sea lions and sea birds inhabit the rocks along the sandstone cliffs at La Jolla Cove.

The source of the foul smell at La Jolla Cove is bird and seal feces, according to locals and business owners. They say a growing population of the marine creatures, along with their abundance of excrement, is stinking up the protected sandstone cliffs.

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La Jolla Cove offers some of the most breathtaking views in San Diego County. But some people say the area smells so bad, you have to hold your breath to take in the views.

Visitors to the Cove on Sunday described the odor: “It's pungent, very pungent,“ said Brent Mosley from Fresno. “It has a very powerful smell, very strong odor. It smells like the wildlife,” described Stephanie Hathaway from Carlsbad. "Kind of a fishy ocean smell, obviously from the seals," said Dave Whiteside of San Diego.

Many people said they don't mind the unpleasant scent, including San Diego resident Amy Vogler. "There are obviously animals that are living here, and just like when you go to the zoo, you have certain smells that you smell when you visit certain animals, and that never bothers me either because I enjoy watching the animals," she said.

La Jolla Foundation Chairman Mitch Thrower disagrees. "People who are not offended probably don't live or own businesses in La Jolla, where a marine population has been encouraged to take up residence in this area."

Thrower said an exploding seal population is changing the ambiance of the seaside village.

“It’s a lot bigger than it ever was and it smells worse than it ever did and they’ve become a bigger problem than they ever were. You’ll literally see kids walking down the street holding their noses saying ‘let’s go back to Del Mar.’ ”

Thrower has launched an aroma fund to raise up to $50,000 for an organic odor treatment. Thrower said the product would be something similar to ones used at SeaWorld or the zoo.

“Obviously we’re just looking for something that just works on the smell, that doesn’t affect the biology.”

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