Monday, August 10, 2009

Casa Beach: Seals are citizens too

I have just returned from a week long trip to my home town of San Diego California. Well there, I took my fiancee (who was meeting my family for the first time) to see a spot well-known to locals and frequented by tourists: Casa Beach.

Casa beach is a very tiny beach in the beautiful La Jolla cove area of San Diego. This beach was originally built as a natural "pool" for children to swim in - as a child I swam in it myself. Over time - through the natural processes of the Ocean - the pool was replaced by sand and a beach was formed. In the early 1990s Harbor seals begin to populate the beach in large numbers. Today a Colony of over 200 of these seals rest, and give birth on this tiny beach.

Here is a brief video of the seals at Casa Beach:

Most people enjoy the fact the seals have made Casa Beach their home. But some locals in La Jolla wish to "reclaim" the beach for human beings. Here is the story (via CBS news):

A judge has delayed his order to remove a harbor seal colony from a sheltered beach cove after the governor signed a bill that could let them remain.

Superior Court Judge Yuri Hofmann on Thursday stayed his order just before the deadline expired, pending an October hearing. Earlier this week the judge gave San Diego 72 hours to begin dispersing hundreds of federally protected harbor seals from a beach in La Jolla.

But the city asked the judge to stay his order after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger signed a bill permitting the cove to be used as a marine mammal park.

The city has been in a years-long battle over whether the cove known as Children's Pool must be reserved for children.

A seawall was built in 1931 by a local philanthropist, Ellen Browning Scripps, to create a cove where children could safely play in the surf. The Children's Pool (a.k.a. Casa beach) was used for years by kids until harbor seals took over the site in the 1990s.

The seals use the sheltered area to sleep, nurse pups and molt. Though the beach is closed to people, the seawall provides visitors a vantage point for observing seal behavior.
It seems to me the case is very simple. There are plenty of beaches for people but few for seals. The story of human expansion is the story of animal displacement and extinction. Can't we for once let another species alone? The Beach is public and not private land, it is no longer swimable water for young children as the tides have changed it. For what reason then should people wish to remove the seals? Simply to enforce human dominance? That is a lousy and cruel reason indeed.

The reason some people want the seals gone is, quite frankly, that they are annoyed by having to share "their" beach with wildlife. The original order to evacuate the seals came from a law suit filed by a swimmer. This swimmer was disturbed because she was fined $100 for swimming too close to the seals. This swimmer - and some wealthy La Jolla residents - have decided to respond to this "inconvenience" by ridding the beach of the seals.

It will be sad indeed of the La Jolla harbor seals are forced to leave. It will be a crime against these seals, a disappointment to the many people who come to admire them in their natural habitat, and another sad tale of human beings forcing other creatures to "get out of our way."

The La Jolla harbor seals have everything to lose and humans nothing to gain, we must support the seals' right to stay at Casa beach. If you are inclined to save the seals: Please sign the following petition:

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