Rope meant to protect seals during pupping season back up at Children's Pool in La Jolla

SAN DIEGO - A rope barrier to discourage people from wandering down into the Children's Pool in La Jolla during the harbor seals' pupping season was installed on Saturday.

The La Jolla Friends of the Seals organization gathered above the Children's Pool at 9 a.m. to celebrate the rope's installation.

The rope is traditionally maintained by the city of San Diego through May 15.

The beach was deeded to the city in 1931 for use by children as a safe swimming area, but the seals began to take it over in the early 1990s. This has sparked frequent clashes between animal rights activists and advocates of beach access for humans.

Advocate Marilies Scholpflin believes the rope, which is used as a barrier to remind people to stay away from the seals, should be kept up all year. She says it is time to adapt to the seals' new chosen home.

"When my grandchildren come here, the first place they want to go down is here… not because they want to see swimmers, because they want to see the seals," she said.

On the other side, Bob Ewing says the rope should be taken down because it is taking away from the beach goers, who are the very reason why the beach was created.

"The rope from where we are standing makes it look like the beach is closed," he said. "The other part of it is seals can go anywhere and people can go past the rope. So why bother?"

San Diego has been authorized by the California Coastal Commission to keep the rope up full time for a three-year period. The issue is currently before the city's Planning Commission, which doesn't meet again until mid-January.

Now, there is a pending lawsuit. However, the legal battle has not stopped 2-year-old Axel from enjoying the beach and the seals. His grandmother Cristy Zatkin believes both should be able to share the beach.

"It's a terrible waste of money where there's so many things that need to be addressed… to be spending this much money and legislation over something as simple as seals on a beach," said Zatkin.

"Friends" spokeswoman Ellen Shively said pregnant female harbor seals and mothers of newborns are easily disturbed and require extra precautions to ensure their safety.

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