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Sierra Club Awaits Word From Mayor’s Office On Closure Of Sea Lion Rookery
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Photo by Erik Anderson
The Sierra Club’s Seal Society delivered a letter to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria on Tuesday asking him to close the Sea Lion Rookery on the La Jolla Shore.
But so far the San Diego Mayor’s office remains mum on a request to protect sea lions and their pups.
The marine mammals have been giving birth at the La Jolla rookery since Memorial Day. And the summer crowds are drawn to the sidewalk next to the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Park.
The sea lions are just a few dozen feet away from onlookers. And there are plenty of onlookers.
“So we’re looking at thousands of people in one day alone,” said Richard Miller of the Sierra Club’s San Diego Chapter. “Viewing this and enjoying it. But at the same time, they have no idea that they should not be down there touching and trying to get selfies.”
The pups can not swim for the first few months of life so they live on the rocky shoreline.
Federal rules prohibit the harassment of marine mammals, but not everyone knows the rules.
The people who volunteer to monitor the rookery are ripe with stories of up-close encounters between sea lions and people.
“You get too close to a mother or a bull and that’s 300 pounds coming at you," Miller said. "Sometimes people don’t understand the risk they are taking just getting close.”
Two weeks ago, a San Diego City council member promised more prominent signage to urge responsible tourism at the sea lion nursery.
"There are few places where you can be on dry land and watch the seals and sea lions up close in their natural state," Councilmember Joe LaCava. “Being this close has its advantages; it's a memorable experience for children and adults alike. However, we also have to remember that seals and sea lions are wild animals that deserve their space and our respects."
The Sierra Club’s Seal Society wants the rookery closed to people, just like a nearby harbor seal nursery at La Jolla’s Children’s pool.
The Society also suggests closing off steps that lead to the rocky shore, addition and more prominent signage, help from law enforcement officers, and an additional handrail along a stretch of wall separating the rookery and the public.
“What we’re arguing is that all this area here is a very low wall,” said Carol Toye. “People will often come down over this area. And directly they are into an area with a lot of sea lions.”
The Sierra Club said those steps would go a long way toward protecting the sea lion pups.
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