Protecting Sea Lions (and Humans) in La Jolla



Harassment by the public has become a growing problem as sea lion populations increase, so the City Council stepped in to close La Jolla Point.

It shouldn’t have had to come to this, but the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to close La Jolla Point year-round to keep people from harassing California sea lions and their pups at the popular tourist area.

The area around La Jolla Cove is a great place to see sea lions, but the harassment of the animals can lead them to abandon pups or to engage in aggressive behavior. As sea lions can weigh up to 800 pounds and have long, sharp teeth, minimizing contact with people is far safer for both animals and humans.

As sea lions can weigh up to 800 pounds and have long, sharp teeth, minimizing contact with people is far safer for both animals and humans.

The vote at the Council meeting on Sept. 18 still needs to be finalized and sent to Mayor Todd Gloria, who could sign this into law in early October. It comes on the heels of Coastal Commission approval of an application for closure, and in response to the failure of the May-through-October seasonal closures since 2021 to eliminate dangerous and illegal behavior by the public, who have been seen in many online videos harassing the wildlife.

While protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, populations of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are considered a species of “least concern,” with healthy populations. Just to the south, the beach at the Children’s Pool beach is closed during winter harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) pupping season, from mid-December to mid-May. As with many types of wildlife, it’s essential to learn to live with both of these mackerel-munching pinnipeds.

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Jim Miller
Jim Miller
Jim Miller, co-editor of Bluedot San Diego and Bluedot Santa Barbara, has been an environmental economist for over 25 years, in the private sector, academia, and the public service. He enjoys sharing his knowledge through freelance writing, and has been published in The Washington Post and Martha’s Vineyard magazine. He’s always loved nature and the outdoors, especially while on a bicycle.
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