There’s a small beach in La Jolla, California, called Children’s Pool, just a half an hour’s drive from San Diego. It happens to be a popular destination for beachgoers because, in addition to offering a spectacular view of the Pacific, Children’s Pool is also a popular haul out site for sea lions and harbor seals. It’s an area where these marine mammals rest and warm up before going back out into the Pacific to feed. Because of the site’s popularity, the city of San Diego has faced a myriad of difficult decisions regarding the beach’s management over the last few decades. Though the city claims its intention is to keep the beach as a seal sanctuary, the large, regular influx of tourists and victors to the beach can make that difficult.
Three years ago, an article on CNN included a video of two individuals harassing the seals. Though the case was ultimately dismissed, this type of behavior seems to be troublesomely common for a site the city wishes to be a “sanctuary.” A video depicting a similar, slippery situation at Children’s Pool has been making the rounds on Facebook over the past month, and was recently shared on our Facebook page. It shows a number of children harassing the sea lions by throwing and kicking sand on them while they rest. Thankfully, there are parents close by carefully watching and disciplining…wait, no they’re just pretending like nothing is happening. Never mind.
In addition to being illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, this type of behavior is incredibly insensitive and disrespectful. That being said, I’ve been told that I was a kid once and I’m sure I’ve done some insensitive and disrespectful things too. It’s on the parents in these types of situations to keep control of their children, to tell them that a.) these are wild animals that might bark, bite, or body slam you if you annoy them and b.) we should treat wildlife with respect. We can’t expect our society’s attitude towards nature and the ocean to change if we don’t instill in our children the necessary values of stewardship, respect, and responsibility.
The frustrating thing about these types of interactions is that a place like Children’s Pool has the potential to be a wonderful example of how humans and animals can live together harmoniously. However, in these instances of public harassment we’re essentially daring a sea lion to attack someone. If that happens, the chances are good that the sea lions would ultimately get the worst end of that situation. No one likes to hear stories or see images of starving sea lions, yet parents who allow their children to behave like this are implicitly saying “I’m ok if this sea lion ends up attacking my child and subsequently getting put down.” Different cause of the same result. So please, if you have children, teach them how incredible these animals are. Show them that we can live together peacefully. After all, children are a reflection of their parents.
Enjoy the Podcast!