FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stephanie Dorezas
LA JOLLA CHILDREN'S POOL RECLAMATION
The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is seeking comment on an application and proposed authorization for the city of San Diego to potentially disturb a small number of Pacific harbor seals while renovating the popular La Jolla beach known as the Children's Pool at 850 Coast Boulevard in San Diego.
The city of San Diego is seeking the authorization as it proposes to restore a safe swimming area and acceptable water quality to the pool by excavating sand to reduce the beach width. The city plans to excavate 3,000 cubic yards of sand from the pool to reclaim the beach from dozens of sunning seals in order to provide children and adults with a safe area to swim.
The La Jolla's Children's Pool, constructed in 1931, is a small beach partially protected by a seawall that provides a sheltered swimming area for children. Over time, the beach area widened as sand accumulated in the sheltered pool. By 1998, the shoreline advanced to near the end of the breakwater, making it difficult to use for recreational swimming. The lack of a protected swimming area, and the close proximity to dangerous rip current conditions near the breakwater creates significant safety concerns for the city.
The recreational use of the pool is further compromised by a population of harbor seals that regularly use the pool area for sunning and sleeping. As a result, the pool area is contaminated with high levels of bacteria from the seal feces. On Sept. 4, 1997, the city determined the pool unsafe for human contact and was closed to the public. The seals also attract tourists to the pool area, which has raised additional safety concerns for the city because of the potentially dangerous situation of people interacting with wild animals.
Service anticipates that the seals
may be disturbed during the initial excavation activities. The
harbor seals may be disturbed on a daily basis by the activity
of heavy machinery required to move the sand off the beach, causing
them to avoid the site for the duration of the project and rest
on the nearby Seal Rock Marine
The Fisheries Service will accept comments on the application and proposed authorization through March 24, 1999. Comments should be addressed to Donna Wieting, Acting Chief, Marine Mammal Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3225. A copy of the application and Federal Register notice may be obtained by contacting the same office.