Mission Beach and Seals in La Jolla

Santee, CA

As the news has been heavily reporting, the west coast has been hit pretty hard with a series of storms riding an air current from Hawaii called the Pineapple Express.  Here in the San Diego area we have just seen a heavy dose of clouds and even some rain.   We haven’t seen any rain since a visit to Minneapolis this past summer,  so it’s interesting that we experience it in Southern California where rain is very rare.

One of the results of the storm pattern is a very high surf along the coast.  Yesterday we decided to head to the beach to check out the crazy surfers enjoying the big waves.  It was a bit chilly for swimming (high 60s) so we were a bit surprised to see a group of college-aged girls in the water.  Turns out it was the Penn State women’s soccer team who had just defeated Florida State the night before to qualify for the NCAA finals Sunday against North Carolina.

There were only a few surfers in this area so we decided to take the bikes out of the Jeep and ride north to Pacific Beach, where the newspaper had written about the many surfers there.  A concrete walking/biking path along the sand between Mission and Pacific Beaches makes for an easy ride.

At Pacific Beach the road goes up onto a cliff overlooking the water, providing a great place to watch the surfers.

Local surfer smiles as she heads for the water

The paper was right about this being a heavy surfer area , as the water was filled with them.  We watched for quite a while as they rode the waves.




After watching the surfers we decided to continue riding up the coast about five miles to view the La Jolla Cove, where there is a local controversy that has been ongoing for years concerning a hangout for seals.  This long, notorious saga began in 1930 when Ellen Browning Scripps, a local philanthropist, requested permission from the city of San Diego to construct (at her expense) a concrete breakwater in the Pacific Ocean adjacent to La Jolla to create a bathing pool. The City Council agreed and by February 1931, the 300-foot concrete breakwater was completed.

Scripps’ generous gift was the concrete breakwater, not the beach. She never owned the La Jolla beach. The state of California does. In June 1931, the governor signed legislation that granted the beach in trust to the city for a “bathing pool for children.”  For over 60 years, the Children’s Pool was a popular destination for kids and families. By the early 1990s, seals began coming in large numbers to the Children’s Pool. A brewing conflict between humans and seals came to a head in 2003 when individuals petitioned the city to remove the seals and restore the beach to human-only use. The city refused, saying that seals and humans should share the beach. 


The Children’s Pool at La Jolla Cove

Local residents are now complaining about the smell from the seals, bird droppings, and fish parts left over from seal meals.  But California is so highly regulated that no one can present a solution without running afoul of some mundane regulation.


We didn’t notice any strong smell during our visit, but did notice the ignorance of people who would go right up to the seals for pictures.  One lady even kicked sand on one to get it to look up at her child.  A stern rebuke from Pam put an end to that!

Dr. Doolittle talks to one of the seals

Looking out from the cove

We love to sit at the beach, but it’s a bit cold for that right now.  The bad weather is set to move on soon so we hope to return if and when things warm up a bit.  More on that later . . .

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4 Responses to Mission Beach and Seals in La Jolla

  1. Marsha says:

    You two sounds just like us. We have rain where we shouldn’t, and where it is needed there is none.

    I am not sure qualifying for the NCAA playoffs would get me in that water!

    That surfer headed for the water looks to have too many clothes on. Hope she didn’t go in like that.

    Good for you Pam. Some people are just idiots. My first reaction was…what is the big deal. Then when I read about the bird dropping, smell of the seals and fish parts, I thought that maybe the residents have a point. Glad I don’t have to make the decision.

    Enjoy your beach experience. Hope it gets warmer so you can sit out without a jacket.

  2. Erin says:

    The ignorance of wildlife interaction etiquette usually ends up with someone being hurt through their own stupidity and blaming the wildlife for it … thanks for speaking up.

  3. Lisa says:

    Hi Pam and John, I just read your comment on WheelingIt and see that you are in Santee Lakes too! (At least for another day) Hans and I are in space 163 in the Willow Loop. We’ll try to catch up with you today to say hello!

    Lisa and Hans

  4. Sue says:

    Hi Pam and John,

    It was nice meeting you this afternoon at Paul and Nina’s boondocking site in Borrego Springs. We’ll be sure to look you up in Santee Lakes later in December. We’ll be in our Fleetwood Discovery, site 132.

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