Target: Dr. Charles Lester, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission
Goal: Do not allow people to harass wild harbor seals.
Several harbor seals are currently dying because they are being harassed by humans. If something is not done to stop this, the entire population will likely soon be wiped out.
Harbor seals come to rest on the beach in La Jolla, California every year between the months of May 15 and Dec. 15. However, instead of being able to rest peacefully, these animals are constantly stressed out by approaching humans. Specifically, visitors take pictures near the seals, and kids are encouraged to pet them, both of which interrupt the seals’ natural behaviors.
Seals quickly flee to the ocean when they feel that people are getting too close. Baby seals are then left alone. Yet these pups quickly die, because they are still too young to survive without their mothers’ help.
While the California Coastal Commission plans on roping off this area during the time that harbor seals visit the beach, these animals should already be protected under law. Hence, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA) states that people must stay at least 150 feet away from all marine mammals.
Sign this petition and demand that the California Coastal Commission enforce this law. If current laws are not enforced, it is unlikely that a simple rope will stop irresponsible behavior.
Dear Dr. Lester,
Many harbor seals are in danger because they are being approached by humans. If something is not done to stop the harassment of these animals, they will likely all soon be dead.
Every year harbor seals swim to the beach in La Jolla, California to rest. However, many of them are unable to do so because humans are constantly approaching them in order to try and take pictures. Kids are further encouraged by parents to get as close to the seals as possible.
Because these seals are afraid of humans, they quickly swim into the ocean, leaving their pups to fend for themselves. The problem is that these pups are too young and inexperienced to make it on their own, as mothers need to still play a crucial role in their lives.
While it is commendable that commissioners plan to rope off this part of the beach during the time seals need to rest, these seals are already supposed to be fully protected under the MMPA.
For all of these reasons, I urge you to better enforce the Marine Mammal Protection Act in this particular area. Since there is already a sign at the beach explaining the MMPA, this goal may possibly be accomplished by keeping the area guarded at all times, or by periodically checking the area and by giving proper warnings and penalties to people who harass the seals.
As you know, penalties may include up to $100,000 in fines, as well as up to one year in jail, both of which are much more likely to deter people from bothering these animals than the use of a mere rope. Since you are already able to use these methods of enforcement, you should be doing just that. Furthermore, if these animals continue to not receive the protections they should already be getting, they will likely soon be gone forever.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: donnamisdavis via San Diego & Beyond