Pupping season has begun in the Childrens Pool in La Jolla.
Dozens of San Diegans, including local animal rights advocacy group La Jolla Friends of the Seals, gathered at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla Saturday to celebrate the official start of seal pupping season.
Back in July, officials with the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to keep a rope barrier up year-round for at least three years to protect the seals at the Children's Pool.
The rope barrier is designed to provide a buffer for the safety and welfare of both the seals and spectators, particularly during the seals’ breeding season.
Currently, all but approximately three feet of the Children’s Pool is roped off from December to May, when the seals give birth. The rope will remain up through May 15, 2013.
The Children’s Pool rope barrier has long been a heated topic between animal advocates and public beach access proponents.
The local beach is a designated seal rookery. It's unique in its proximity to the viewing area, where people can watch the seals as they rest, sunbathe, molt and give birth.
The National Marine Fisheries Service recommends spectators remain at least 50 feet from the nearest beached seal, but the Children’s Pool is an exception due to the small size of the beach.
The next designated seal rookery open to the public is near Santa Barbara, Calif.