Latest News Affecting the La Jolla Seals

.APPELLATE COURT AFFIRMS: BEACH TO REMAIN CLOSED DURING PUPPING SEASON PENDING RESOLUTION OF APPEAL

(February 2, 2017) The Appellate Court issued its final ruling on the City’s motion to lift the lower court’s order prohibiting the City from closing Casa Beach while the appeal is under consideration.  The Court voted unanimously to grant the City’s the motion, thus allowing the beach to remain closed during pupping season while the appeal is being considered.  The court found “it to be in the public interest to maintain the status quo pending resolution of this appeal.” The pups started arriving 2/4/17, so the good news is that the chain is staying up just in time!

 

APPEALS COURT ALLOWS BEACH TO CLOSE AS THE 2017 PUPPING SEASON BEGINS

(December 15, 2016)  A three-judge appellate panel voted 2-1 today to grant the City of San Diego’s request to temporarily lift the lower court’s order prohibiting the City from closing Casa Beach while the appeal is under consideration. Thanks to this ruling, the chain went up on December 16, just in time for the start of the 2017 pupping season.  A final decision on the City’s appeal of an Orange County Judge’s ruling of May 3, 2016, which had struck down the annual Seal Pupping Season beach closure from December 15th through May 15th, is expected in 2017.

There is no beach access allowed during harbor seal pupping season (December 15 to May 15) in order to protect the moms and pups when they are most vulnerable. You can watch the pregnant seals and their newborn pups from the mid-landing behind the chain, from the sidewalk above Casa Beach, or from the sea wall, if open. Be sure to come to La Jolla and enjoy the holidays at Casa Beach. Right now you can see a lot of pregnant moms, and we expect 40 to 50 new pups to be born in 2017. The majority of the newborn pups will arrive between February 8 and March 8. If you’re lucky, you might witness a live birth!

Casa Beach in La Jolla is the only NOAA-recognized mainland harbor seal rookery between the U.S./Mexico Border and Ventura County, 160 miles to the north. It is very rare for harbor seals to choose an urbanized setting for their home. Nevertheless, despite the urban location, the La Jolla Seals do have site fidelity to Casa Beach because of the ideal conditions that this specific beach provides them for birthing and bonding with their pups.  Casa Beach also offers visitors an amazing opportunity to view these beautiful marine mammals, undisturbed in their natural habitat during pupping season.

The Seal Conservancy remains hopeful that justice will be served and that the horrible ruling which struck down the annual winter beach closure will be overturned by the State Court of Appeals. This outcome would allow the protections to continue for the Seals during their pupping season, when they need them the most. A decision is expected in early 2017. We thank all of you for your steadfast support of the harbor seals of Casa Beach, and hope to see you enjoying this unique natural treasure during the 2017 pupping season.


CITY COUNCIL APPROVES SEAL APPEAL!

(June 14, 2016)  Today in closed session, the San Diego City Council voted 7-1 to appeal the Orange County Judge’s ruling of May 3, 2016 which had struck down the annual Seal Pupping Season beach closure from December 15th through May 15th at Casa Beach.yes_on_appeal2

The case now goes to the California State Court of Appeals, where lawyers from the San Diego City Attorney’s office and the California Coastal Commission will take the lead on the appeal.

Your letters and emails to the City Council were extremely helpful and did not go unnoticed by the City Councilmembers. Dozens of you also came to City Hall on June 14 to show your support for the appeal in person.  The impact of your presence cannot be understated.  You made all the difference!

As you know, the pupping season beach closure was approved by San Diego’s Planning Commission, City Council, Mayor, and the California Coastal Commission.  During the two years of its operation, this elegant compromise brought peace and stability to the beach for the Seals while also reducing calls to the San Diego Police Department by 87.5%.  The beach was closed for five months for the Seals, and open for the other seven months for beach access during the busy summer season — a win-win for all.

We are now hopeful that justice will be served and that this horrible ruling which struck down the annual winter beach closure will be overturned by the State Court of Appeals.  This outcome would allow the protections to continue for the Seals during their pupping season, when they need them the most.  We thank all of you for your steadfast support of the harbor seals of Casa Beach.

 


JUDGE STRIKES DOWN PUPPING SEASON CLOSURE

(May 6, 2016) The annual Pupping Season Closure of Casa Beach from December 15 through May 15 has been struck down by a single Orange County judge.

Please click here to urge Mayor Faulconer, the City Attorney, and the City Council to appeal this BAD ruling.

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The pupping season beach closure was approved by San Diego’s Planning Commission, City Council, Mayor, and finally by the California Coastal Commission (unanimously) in August of 2014.

It was operative for the past two pupping seasons and the closure completely resolved all harassment of seals while dramatically reducing police calls with no citations issued at all.  The closure restored the calm needed for seals to give birth and nurse their pups, and for visitors to enjoy this astounding natural experience.

Do not let the misinterpretation of state and federal laws by a single judge reverse San Diego’s elegant compromise solution to protect the La Jolla Seals.

The Seals need your help.  Please speak for the harbor seal moms and their pups by clicking here to email the Mayor, the City Attorney, and the City Council now!  Please be sure to sign the email.  If the link doesn’t work, here is a link that you can copy and paste into your own email:  [Sample Email to San Diego Mayor, City Attorney, and City Council].

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THE SEAL CONSERVANCY IS RECOGNIZED FOR OUR SOUTH CASA BEACH CLEANUPS!

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ANOTHER VICTORY FOR THE SEALS!

(June 10, 2015) On June 10, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to approve a four-year permit extension to keep the City of San Diego’s viewing guideline rope up through 2019 during the non-pupping season months (May 16 through December 14 annually).   The rope is effective in creating a buffer between humans and the harbor seals that haul out on the sand at Casa Beach. This victory would not have been possible without your support.

We want to thank the Mayor of San Diego, the San Diego City Council, the Park & Recreation Department, the Coastal Commission and their staff.  We also want to thank the dozens of seal supporters who joined us for the all-day Coastal Commission meeting in Newport Beach on June 10, as well as the 4,122 people who wrote letters and signed our petitions in support of the rope.

You can click here to watch video of the proceedings at the June 10, 2015 California Coastal Commission meeting.

We hope we can count on your support in four years when we must prove to the California Coastal Commission that not only should the rope be continuously in place, but that the closure of the beach during pupping season should also be a permanent protection. The seals will need your help again!

Here are some of the dedicated seal supporters that made the trip to Newport Beach, CA.

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SUCCESSFUL FUNDRAISING RECEPTION

(March 18, 2015) In order to fight the threat of the removal of Casa Beach rope, the Seal Conservancy held a fundraising reception at the spectacular home of Michelle and Bill Lerach.

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The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the impending threat of the removal of the Casa Beach rope, and to also raise funds to help save the rope. Thanks to supporter contributions, and the efforts of our generous hosts, the Seal Conservancy was able to raise $24,064 in donations!

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SEAL PUPPING SEASON IS ABOUT TO GET EXCITING!

(January 24, 2015)  As February draws near we would like to remind you that many new pups will soon be born at the Pacific Harbor Seal Rookery at Casa Beach in La Jolla. Though the beach itself is closed for the birthing season, visitors can still get an excellent view of the newborns and their mothers from the sidewalk, the gazebo, and the mid-stairway landing area. Mark your calendars to stop by during February and March. It is an amazing sight that you, your family, and your friends will enjoy!

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SEAL PUPPING SEASON HAS BEGUN – CASA BEACH CLOSED

(December 15, 2014; UTSDSDCW )  December 15th is the first day of Seal pupping season, as well the first day that Casa Beach closes in 2014 for the protection of the La Jolla Harbor Seals. The closure is annual and will be in effect during the five months of pupping season (December 15 – May 15), for the next 5 years. Today, the Seal Conservancy Board of Directors, and other Seal supporters gathered at Casa Beach to announce beach closure and express excitement and gratitude for the progress made in protecting the La Jolla Seals.

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LAWSUIT CHALLENGES PUPPING SEASON CLOSURE OF CASA BEACH

(October 21, 2014; KPBS)  Anti-seal activists who oppose seasonal closure of Casa Beach in La Jolla to protect the harbor seal moms and their pups (from December 15 to May 15 annually) announced that on October 10, 2014, they filed a lawsuit challenging the city of San Diego’s decision to prohibit people from venturing onto the sand beginning December 15, 2014.  The “Friends of the Children’s Pool” filed the lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court in hopes of getting the City Council’s resolution invalidated before the closure takes effect, Ken Hunrichs, the group’s president, told City News Service.


VICTORY FOR THE SEALS!

On August 14, 2014, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to support Seal Pupping Season closure of Casa Beach annually from December 15 through May 15 for a five-year pilot period.

U-T San Diego Front Page – Friday, August 15, 2014

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What This Means:  On December 15, 2014, there will be a chain and signs installed at the top of the stairs and people will no longer be allowed on the sand to harass the seals.  The beach will be closed from December 15 to May 15 for the next 5 years.  The CCC approved the closure permit for 5 years and will then re-evaluate the situation for future approval.

We are thrilled by yesterday’s CCC decision because the anticipated result is going to be a drastic reduction of seal harassment during next year’s pupping season.

The decision to close the beach during pupping season was based on the CCC’s concern about the high number of incidents of seal harassment by people, and specifically how this harassment affects the pups. These incidents have been well documented by Seal Conservancy docents and other concerned seal supporters since the late 1990’s.   Powerful presentations with images and videos of suffering seals and pups were shown during yesterday’s CCC meeting. The information presented had a dramatic impact on the Coastal Commissioners and the people in the audience alike–no one could ignore these heartbreaking pictures and video clips, which ultimately led to the Commissioners’  unanimous vote to protect the seals. This Victory would not have been possible without your support!

We want to thank the Mayor of San Diego, the San Diego City Council and City Staff for supporting pupping season closure.  We also want to express our gratitude to former Assemblymember Howard Wayne, County Supervisor Dave Roberts, former County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, Councilmember Marti Emerald, and former Councilmember Donna Frye for speaking at the Coastal Commission meeting.  Most of all, we salute the 63 seal supporters who came in person to Thursday’s all-day meeting — your being there made all the difference.

In 2019 the Seal Conservancy will partner with the City of San Diego in supporting their application to make the 5 month pupping season chain and 7 month viewing guideline rope decisions in perpetuity by the California Coastal Commission.

In order to continue our activities, the Seal Conservancy needs to continue to be funded because, as you know, the seal opponents are extremely zealous in their dedication to their anti-Seal cause.

Please consider making a contribution, large (if possible) or small (such as  $10 each month) to ensure continued protection and more victories. 

If you prefer to send a check, please make the check payable to SEAL CONSERVANCY and mail it to this address:

Seal Conservancy
PO BOX 2016
La Jolla, CA  92038-2016

With your ongoing help and financial support, the Seal Conservancy will continue to work on these important projects and be vigilant in advocating for and protecting the Seals.



CRITICAL CCC MEETING RAPIDLY APPROACHING, YOUR LETTERS OF SUPPORT ARE NEEDED TODAY

The California Coastal Commission will be meeting in San Diego from August 13-15, 2014.  At this meeting, the Commissioners will be voting on the City’s proposal to close Casa Beach during the five critical months of Harbor Seal Pupping Season from December 15 to May 15 annually.  Letters of support from the public play a major role in the Commissioners’ decision-making process.  We need everyone who supports protection for the La Jolla Seals during their pupping season months, to write to the California Coastal Commission now.

CCC Email PhotoIt is during pupping season that Seals give birth to their babies and must have as much protection as possible.  Beach closure will help prevent premature births, abandoned pups, pup mortality and mom and pup malnutrition. Beach closure works.

Numerous communities in California close their beaches during pupping season such as the City of Carpinteria and Marin County.  Casa Beach is the only mainland California Seal pup birthing area south of Ventura County.  It is a special place to see animals in their natural habitat.  With your previous support, this past February the San Diego City Council voted 6 – 3 in favor of pupping season closure.

The Coastal Commission only accepts comments sent via U.S. Mail – unfortunately, emails won’t help.  Please help the Seals by printing and mailing your letter of support today!

Don’t forget to sign the letter, and hand-write your name and address on the letter, after you print it.

Letters should be mailed to:

RE: File 6-14-0691
Attn: Brittney Laver, Coastal Analyst
California Coastal Commission
7575 Metropolitan Drive, Suite 103
San Diego, CA 92108-4402

If you would prefer a sample letter that you can open on your own computer and type in yourself, you can download one here.

This is the final step in the process and with your help and support, we can protect the Seals during their Pupping Season!


HUGE WIN FOR THE SEALS AT THE SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL!

(February 24, 2014, Los Angeles Times)

On Monday, February 24, 2014 the San Diego City Council voted 6 to 3 in FAVOR of seasonal closure of Casa Beach during the harbor seal pupping season, from December 15 through May 15 annually. This was a long-fought victory.

The Council Chamber was filled to near-capacity, with the seal advocates outnumbering the opponents by a greater than 2-to-1 ratio (A subsequent count of the speaker slips submitted showed 110 persons in favor of the seasonal beach closure, and only 43 opposed). It was quite a dramatic hearing, with anti-seal Councilwoman Sherri Lightner really showing her true colors and nearly becoming unhinged when she realized she was going to lose this battle. You can watch the Councilmembers’ debate here. A huge thank-you to all 110 of you who took the time to come to the meeting and show your support for the seals in person. Your presence made all the difference! We also want to thank the literally thousands of you who sent emails and letters to the San Diego City Councilmembers to express your support for the La Jolla Seals.

We want to thank the following Councilmembers who supported the La Jolla Seals and their pups:

  • Council President Todd Gloria
  • Mayor-Elect Kevin Faulconer
  • Councilmember Myrtle Cole
  • Councilmember Lorie Zapf
  • Councilmember David Alvarez
  • Councilmember Marti Emerald

You can send a thank-you email to all 6 of these Councilmembers at once by clicking here.

We specifically want to thank Councilmember Marti Emerald for making the motion in support of the Seals, and for being their strongest supporter, and for providing steadfast leadership at the City Council meeting during the Councilmembers’ debate over the seasonal closure of Casa Beach. You can watch Ms. Emerald’s heroic stand here (she begins speaking at 17:01).

We also want to thank Councilmember Myrtle Cole for immediately seconding the motion, as well as the City’s Staff for all of their hard work on this issue over the past four years.

However, the job is not done yet!

The seasonal closure of Casa Beach during harbor seal pupping season still has to be approved by the California Coastal Commission. The approval must be granted by August in order for the beach to actually be closed to the public next winter (December 15, 2014 to May 15, 2015). The Coastal Commission will be meeting at the Catamaran Resort in San Diego from August 13 – 15, 2014 and it is our hope that on one of these dates, the matter of the seasonal closure of Casa Beach will be on their agenda.

Our focus now turns to this next, and final (!) step. We will keep you informed as we move forward and thank you for your continuing support!


VICTORY AT THE SAN DIEGO PLANNING COMMISSION

(September 12, 2013)

Thanks to you, we won! The Seal Conservancy wishes to thank all of you for the continuous flood of support that you have shown for the La Jolla Seals. Your letters, phone calls, emails, and most of all, those of you who took the time to come in person and spend the whole day, are what made all the difference as the La Jolla Seals pulled off a miraculous victory at the San Diego Planning Commission Hearing on Thursday, September 12, 2013.

The issue on the table was the City Council’s 2010 Resolution to close Casa Beach annually during the 5-month harbor seal pupping season. We are thrilled to report that the Planning Commission voted 4-2 in favor of the seasonal closure compromise. This is wonderful news and what it means is that the seals are one step closer to getting the protection they deserve, during the time of year when they need it most. Read more about the victory at the San Diego Planning Commission here.

As always seems to be the case, the fight is not over – in fact the seals need you now more than ever.

We are preparing for the critical vote at the San Diego City Council to close Casa Beach for 5 months during the harbor seal pupping season. The vote will take place in late February 2014. As soon as we know the date and time of the City Council Meeting involving the La Jolla Seals, we will spread the word.

The seals really need all of you to attend this City Council Meeting in person. The anti-seal faction never fails to show up in large numbers, so if no one is there to support the seals, it will appear to the City Council as if the public does not care about the seals. This must not happen, so please check back here regularly for more information about the upcoming crucial City Council Meeting which you should plan to attend in person.


SEALS WINNING STREAK IN COURT CONTINUES AS JUDGE TURNS DOWN REQUEST TO SHORTEN GUIDELINE ROPE PROTECTING THEM

(April 19, 2013, Los Angeles Times)

The seals at Casa Beach in La Jolla are on a roll — in court. A judge Friday turned down a request to shorten the guideline rope meant to protect the marine mammals from being harassed by the public during pupping season. A group called “Friends of the Children’s Pool” had asked that the rope, now stretching 152 feet, be shortened to 130 feet, thus increasing access to the water for swimmers and divers. But San Diego County Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman, who recently ruled that the rope should remain year-round, not just in pupping season, turned down the request. He also turned down a request by the same group to overturn an order by Mayor Bob Filner that the beach be closed to the public at night, at least through May 15th, the end of the pupping season. Read the full story here.


YEAR-ROUND ROPE UPHELD BY JUDGE, MAJOR VICTORY FOR THE LA JOLLA SEALS

(April 12, 2013, Los Angeles Times)

A group that wants greater protection for the seals that lounge on the beach at Casa Beach in La Jolla won a major round in court Friday.  Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman agreed with the Animal Protection and Rescue League that a guideline rope meant to keep people away from the seals should remain year-round, not just during the November-to-May pupping season.


SEAL VIDEO BRINGS NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT ON ANIMAL ABUSE

(March 21, 2013, CNN)

The recent video of two women abusing seals at Casa Beach in La Jolla is both perplexing and disturbing. In the middle of the night, the two women sit on apparently-pregnant harbor seals, kick them or pull their flippers, all the while snapping flash pictures. The harassment eventually causes the seals to flee into the water. This incident has created a firestorm over the abuse of animals. Read more and view video.


MAYOR CLOSES CASA BEACH AT NIGHT

(March 19, San Diego’s Channel 10 News)

“I felt it was important to take this step after evidence of individuals seen on video tape, harassing, taunting and causing stress to the seals at Casa Beach in La Jolla,” Mayor Bob Filner said in a prepared statement. Read more.


CASA BEACH TO BE CLOSED NIGHTLY

(March 19, 2013, U-T San Diego)

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner ordered Casa Beach in La Jolla to be closed from sunset to sunrise through mid-May after video surfaced of seal being sat on, kicked and punched. Read more.


CITY ERRED IN REJECTING YEAR-ROUND ROPE AT CASA BEACH IN LA JOLLA

(February 20, 2013, La Jolla Patch)

“The city concedes its Planning Commission erred when it denied the site development permit for the guideline rope,” Deputy City Attorney George Schaefer wrote in a paper filed with the Court on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. The rest of the story is here.


WEBCAM CATCHES WOMEN HARASSING SEALS AT CASA BEACH

(February 18, 2013, AP)

The new SealCam, which was set up to give the public around the world a glimpse into the life of a harbor seal rookery at Casa Beach in La Jolla, CA, catches women kicking and tormenting seals (many pregnant) during the night. View the full story and KFMB Channel 8 video segment here.


‘SEAL CAM’ TO LET WORLD SEE SEALS ON THE BEACH IN LA JOLLA

(January 31, 2013, Los Angeles Times)

A night-vision capable camera, aimed at the harbor seal rookery at Casa Beach, has been installed atop the lifeguard tower to show the world the beach where seals lounge and give birth. Read more.

MAYOR EXTENDS LENGTH OF PUPPING SEASON ROPE AT CASA BEACH

(December 27, 2012, La Jolla Light)

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner delivered on the promise he made December 15, 2012, to extend the guideline rope separating humans and seals at Casa Beach, from 130 feet to 152 feet. Full article is here.

SAN DIEGO PLANNING COMMISSION CUTS DOWN YEAR-ROUND SEAL ROPE FOR CASA BEACH

(September 27, 2012, La Jolla Light)

Despite the California Coastal Commission’s unanimous July approval of a Coastal Development Permit to install a year-round rope separating humans and seals at Casa Beach in La Jolla, San Diego’s Planning Commission drew a firm line in the sand on September 27, unanimously denying the year-round rope for a second time. Full story here.

CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION VOTES TO KEEP GUIDELINE ROPE UP YEAR-ROUND

(July 11, 2012, San Diego’s Channel 6 News)

The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to keep the guideline rope designed to protect harbor seals up full-time at Casa Beach in La Jolla. The CCC approved the City of San Diego’s application to keep the rope up with clear signage and for a three-year term, providing the city develops a plan to monitor conditions at the beach and the effectiveness of the rope. Read more.