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California Coastal Commission approves closure of sea lion rookery during pupping season

Point La Jolla and much of Boomer Beach will be closed to the public May 1st through Oct. 31st due to a unanimous vote by the California Coastal Commission Friday.

SAN DIEGO — If you want to catch a glimpse of the sea lion pups at Point La Jolla this summer, you will have to do so from a distance. 

That’s because the Point and much of Boomer Beach will be closed to the public May 1st through Oct. 31st due to a unanimous vote by the California Coastal Commission Friday.

“We are totally ecstatic over this,” said Richard Miller, Chapter Director for Sierra Club San Diego. “If you had been in the room, you would have heard a big eruption of clapping and yelling and screaming.”

It’s a big win for environmental groups like Sierra Club and Seal Society who have worked on this with the City of San Diego and its Parks and Recreation Department for four years. Sea lions will now have their own area all to themselves during pupping season.

“The sea lions really need that time,” said Robyn Davidoff, Chair of the Seal Society in La Jolla. “They’re extremely, extremely vulnerable. They can’t swim at birth. They are reliant on their moms for six months for food and they really need that time to develop without any human interaction.”

For years, activists have been calling attention to the harassment of sea lions by tourists who get too close to them in search of selfie material for social media.

“It’s very disturbing,” said Davidoff. “You can go down there any day of the week and you will see people approaching the sea lions, trying to get their selfies, sometimes sitting down, laying down next to them, petting them, trying to get a reaction from them. We’ve seen people throw sand and rocks at them.”

The situation was so problematic last year that the City enforced a temporary emergency closure for five weeks in August/September. Now, with a 7-year permit granted from the coastal commissioners, the area will be closed for six months out of every year.

“Last year we had people standing over sea lions as they were giving birth. This year they’ll be able to view from the sidewalk above,” said Davidoff. “The sea lions are going to be able to be sea lions and not be affected by people.”

The City is required to maintain a long-term management plan for this closure, and they’ve agreed to have park rangers on staff at the location seven days a week, which is a big relief for Robyn and her volunteers.

“We have been relegated to the job of policing and educating,” said Davidoff. “It’s a very difficult situation as volunteers and we are looking forward to supporting the rangers in the education efforts.”

The city will chain off access to the wooden stairway during the closure and place two K-rail barriers to restrict public access.

WATCH RELATED: City leaders, animal lovers reminds residents, tourists to give sea lion pups space (July 2021).

    

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