Those controversial La Jolla seals can look forward to more disturbances. “The City of San Diego plans to conduct a sand quality study at the Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla,” says an April 4 notice from the National Marine and Fisheries Service. “Researchers have identified pinniped [scientific name for seals] molting and excrement as a potential source of mercury to the environment.” In addition, the federal agency says, the famous playa is “impaired for Fecal Indicator Bacteria.”
Thus, beginning this summer, city consultants will be hitting the beach. “The sand quality sampling activities would involve teams of two to three people collecting sand samples for approximately four hours,” says the notice. “Sixteen sampling events are proposed for the sand quality study period between June 1 and December 14, 2016,” which would take place safely after seal pupping period has concluded.
Still, caveats remain. “Proposed sand sampling activities would occur during daylight hours only.” In addition, “prior to sand sampling events, the beach would be surveyed for the presence of northern fur seals and/or Guadalupe fur seals. If either of these species are observed hauled out or in the water at Children’s Pool Beach, sand sampling would not commence. This precaution is included due to the unusually high number of strandings of fur seals along the entire California coast beginning in January, 2015, which has resulted in the declaration of an Unusual Mortality Event for Guadalupe fur seal.”
Adds the report, “In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this Incidental Harassment Authorization, such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, the City of San Diego shall immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division.”