La Jolla Sea Lion Situation Now A ‘Crisis’
The coves that smell problem has now turned into a crisis because in addition to the smell of bird in the light excrement causing complaints the sea lions are now taking over the beach. More and more sea lions are occupying sandy areas of the co-in addition to the rocks making it difficult and sometimes dangerous for beachgoers. The town Council held a crisis meeting last week to bring together business, government, wildlife experts, and residents in hopes of finding some solution. Joining me is Steve Haskins. Is former president of the only a town Council. Thank you it is a pleasure to be here. This issue has been going on for several years now. How much worse hasn't gotten? At this point it is truly a crisis because what is happened is a problem that was isolated on the rocky areas to the east of the co-and that was the sea lions and excrement causing the smell problem for the Prospect Street area and businesses along coast Boulevard has turned into a situation where the sea lions have taken over the beach and these are big animals -- a lot bigger than the seals at the children's schools. Some of these sea lions are 600 pounds and have very big teeth and can be aggressive. Now I read that sometimes they block access to and from the beach? The way the copious setup is there are two stairways and that is the only way to get in and out of the Cove Beach so what some of the sea lines like to do is sit on the stairways and just there and look out at the ocean. Nobody can walk by them partly because they can be bitten. Now the number of the lions at the Cove is also had an impact on the quality of the water, hasn't it?. That's right. That is probably the most intractable problem is the pollution in the water. With that number of sea lions, the whole area that which is an underwater park and highly protected has been contaminated to the point where you can get sick swimming there. So you had the crisis at the co-meeting last night. What kind of turnout did you get? It was an overflowing crowd. Ali 150 people. It was not enough room inside. Will have to stand outside and try to hear the extent anything accomplished? I think one thing that became clear after all the speakers had spoken was that the city of San Diego through the mayor's office has the authority now to take whatever action is necessary to not only protect people but protect the sea lines because I would also remind you that there are visitors from out of town who are coming down to the co-in trying to pet sea lions, trying to put their children on the backs of sea lions. These are wild animals and they should not be harassed in that way What are some of the residents and business owners suggesting? Are there any ideas floating around in the hall you about what to do? Well we have had researched at length every conceivable idea and solution used around the world to deal with C lien issues and probably the one that would be most likely to be used for the beach sea lions would be spring water on them. The next sea lions don't like it when you spray water on their backs. It doesn't hurt them or anything it is just they don't like it so this is used in a lot of places up and down the coast in California. What kind of approval would you need in order to begin a program of spraying water on the sea lions? None whatsoever. In fact I met with the director for the Western region of national oceanic and atmospheric administration last year and he basically said the city of San Diego already has the authority to take whatever actions are necessary under the Marine mammal protection act. So actually, action can be taken immediately without any further steps. What are you hearing from this city? Well the city commissioned a report about the sea lions, C lien expert. That report was supposed to come out inmate but it did not and as of today I have not seen it. This report apparently may give direction to the city staff on how to deal with this. In addition to what direction we have RDC received from Noah. I understand you meet regularly with the mayor about this particular problem. That is right. There is a group of stakeholders and I am one of them that meets with the mayor to talk about the situation and what can be done and what is being done at this time the city is spraying enzymes on some of the sea lion droppings on the rocky areas. That has not in fact solve the smell problem. Now the problem is much worse and more definitive action will need to be taken that has not been discussed yet with the mayor at least in our group. So is the city aware of this idea that perhaps you could just spray water on the sea lions at least on the beach and they would go away? Is the city aware that this could be a simple solution? Yes. And what response have you got? No response. What is your next move? Well certainly if this report would come out from the city consultant we could use that to identify the most likely method. The other really -- what we need is we need more people to be involved and to let their city officials know that they would like something done about this -- about moving Bessie lions off the beach. So far as the droppings on the rocky areas I think this problem could be put aside until this major problem is resolved. What about the idea that this is just part of living along California coast. That sea lion and birds are part of the coastal environment and residents need to come to terms with that. Certainly in the grand scheme of things that is correct. When I was a boy I grew up in La Jolla and sea lions always lived on the other side of goldfish point where they had a nice place they could get in and out of the water. These -- the situation now maybe because see lines have a problem in finding food there may be some other issues but there has to be a balance. There needs to be a balance between protecting the wildlife and allowing human use, especially in a crowded city like San Diego so finding that balance is really what we need to do. I have been speaking with Steve Haskins former president of the La Jolla town Council. Steve, thank you very much. Thank you pixie that we contacted the city of San Diego as of airtime received no reply. Coming up the life of Midge Costanza -- one of the very first feminist in the White House. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition.
The ongoing poop problem in La Jolla appears to be getting worse.
How much worse?
Residents are now calling it a crisis.
"It’s not just the smell of the sea lions on the rocky bluffs," said Steve Haskins, the former president of the La Jolla Town Council. "Now it’s actually the sea lions taking over the stairways, sometimes they don’t let people go to the beach or leave the beach because you have very large male sea lions on the stairways, which can be very aggressive."
Pollution from sea lion and bird droppings in the ocean also led to the cancellation of the annual La Jolla Rough Water Swim race this year, said Haskins.
La Jolla Cove was under a health advisory warning for about two weeks in May due to high levels of pollution. Historically, advisories average two days in the cove, according to county staff.
Over the years, a number of creative ideas to address the stench have been proposed. In 2013 the city began the application of a bioactive product on the bluffs. Early this year, a group of La Jolla residents and business owners suggested setting up rotating plastic cylinders that will roll the marine mammals off the rocks as they try to jump out of the water.
Haskins said no action on that plan was taken.
Now he is suggesting the city spray water on the sea lions, which the animals don't like, to remove them off the beach. Haskins said this solution would require no approval from authorities, and the city could do it immediately.
The city commissioned a report on the sea lions that was supposed to come out in May, according to Haskins, but it hasn't yet been published.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.