San Diego Applies to Close Point La Jolla for Sea Lion Pupping Season

Daniela Navarrete, Editorial Writer

The City of San Diego applied to the California Coastal Commission to close Point La Jolla from May 25th to September 15th. This is because of a problem of humans interacting too much with sea lions during their pupping season.

Pupping season for sea lions is from about June 1st to October 31st. During this time, sea lion mothers bond with their pups, nurse them, and teach them to swim. Many sea lions use Point La Jolla, which is between La Jolla Cove and Boomer Beach, to rest and raise their pups, which has inevitably led to the spot becoming a common tourism destination.

Especially during the summer, people swarm the area to try and get a close up look at the wildlife. This can lead to harm for both humans and the wildlife. When they feel threatened, for example if someone gets too close, sea lions can become aggressive as a natural defense to protect both themselves and their pups. On the opposite side, according to The San Diego Union Tribune, there have been reports of “beach-goers bothering, and in a few cases harming, sea lions and their pups.” Furthermore, according to the City of San Diego, these interactions could “potentially result in injury or abandonment of sea lion offspring,” which would inevitably hurt the sea lion population.

As a result, in an attempt to protect both humans and the sea lions, in 2021, the City of San Diego was granted a permit to authorize an emergency closure of the same area, which lasted from August 10th to September 15th as a result of said reports of people bothering the sea lions.

The seasonal closure is a very good initiative and it is great to see the city taking steps to protect our wildlife. As awe inspiring as it is to see the wildlife from close up, people cannot be trusted to be nearly as cautious or as respectful of the animals as they should be. There will always be someone who gets too curious and ends up getting hurt or hurting others, and this is the best way to prevent that.

According to the City of San Diego, the interactions between human and sea lion could potentially be a violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which is a national policy enacted to protect marine wildlife and prevent their populations from dropping.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to the seasonal closure. While the exact location where the closure would be has yet to be completely determined, the proposed location would remove public access to two sets of wooden stairs that lead to the beach. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that Kurt Hoffman, a beach access advocate, has stated that the only routh that would be available is “down an eroded path that is consistently slippery and … not a good, safe route to the beach.”

Regardless, it is undeniable that something must be done to protect these animals. If people have to sacrifice a few summer trips to the beach in order to protect important wildlife, then so be it.