These are the seals at Children’s Beach in La Jolla, Calif.
Pretty neat, huh?
I thought so, too, when I recently stumbled upon them while strolling the oceanfront with my husband on a visit to SoCal. “Seals!” I shouted, having spotted them about five seconds after he did, since he’s a foot taller and can see things sooner than me. “I know,” he said, rolling his eyes. I’m pretty sure he also was thinking, “You’re such a tourist sometimes.”
(The moment brought to mind one of my favorite stories from one of my favorite storytellers, my friend Dan. Dan, a coastal Texas resident accustomed to the occasional dolphin in the surf, but that’s it, once went surfing in California. He saw a seal surfing the waves, too. “A SEAL!!!” he exclaimed loud enough so the other surfers could hear. He looked around, thrilled to be sharing the waves with a seal, and he wanted the other surfers to see the seal, too. But the bored looks from the other surfers only made him feel like quite the lame, sheepish Texas tourist.)
So anyway, I soon realized it was us and about a thousand other tourists watching the seals. We’d coo with delight whenever one of the babies flopped about, or chuckle when one hauled itself awkwardly out from the water.
They are harbor seals and they are protected under the Marine Mammal Act. As they should be.
But, after I had put the camera away, some a-hole, with his baby daughter in tow, crossed the rope barrier meant to keep humans away from the seals. The man threw down a beach blanket and sat down, sending every single seal scurrying into the water, where they all poked their heads out to watch the offending invaders. Me and a thousand other tourists audibly gasped.
Turns out that this was a local, who feels entitled to bring his child to the beach, seals or no seals. This has been an ongoing issue between animal haters and animal lovers in La Jolla.
It’s probably quite clear what side I’m on: As if California doesn’t have enough beaches overrun with humans, now some residents want this tiny spit of beach all to their own.
Jesus H., people.