SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Opposing groups set up booths and traded charges Saturday over the rookery of seals that has displaced swimmers at Children's Pool in La Jolla.
A rope barrier was set up by the City of San Diego Thursday, roping off 130 feet of prized beach to protect a harbor seal rookery during pupping season. But some people say the beach belongs to humans, and today they set up a booth inside the cordoned-off area, angering seal fans.
The city-maintained rope barrier is scheduled remain in place until May 15, and state law has been changed to allow the city to declare the seal rookery as a sanctuary.
The cove is sheltered by a concrete seawall, donated to the children of San Diego in 1931 as a swimming area for kids. But since about 1991, it has been taken over by seals, a subject of disagreement between animal rights groups and beach access advocates, who were both out at the Children's Pool again Saturday.
About 20 activists from the Animal Protection and Rescue League and the La Jolla Friends of Seals set up an education booth near the area, according to Bryan Pease, an attorney representing the two groups.
Pease alleged that the group of about 20 people advocating against cordoning off the area had set up camp on the seals side of the rope, which may have violated the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.
"By occupying the beach, they're preventing the seals from hauling up to rest," Pease said.
In 2010, the City Council voted to maintain the barrier year-round, however Mayor Jerry Sanders ordered it to be in place only during the pupping season.
How long the ropes remain up will now be decided by the California Coastal Commission, Pease said.