The seawall at Casa Beach’s Children’s pool was built in 1931. The goal was to provide a safe, surf-free area for children to play in the ocean.
Eighty-eight years later, the seawall is still providing safe harbor for youth. However, from early winter through late spring, the youth have been those of pinnipeds.
The small beach is closed to human use from December 15 to May 15. There has been an ongoing fight for the beach since the 1990s when the first harbor seals were witnessed hauling out on the popular piece of sand. The spot has since become a harbor seal pupping area.
Harbor seals are usually calm and seemingly sluggish. They make little noise compared to their very vocal cousin, the sea lion. Typically, they don’t harass or attack people as sea lions have done. There are about 200 harbor seals on the beach at the Children’s Pool during pupping season.
Both species of pinnipeds have been the center of ongoing political and legal controversy.
One camp cites illness caused by bacteria-laden water, over population, noise and stench drifting to the east and the resulting loss of business revenue. The opposing camp points to ecotourism benefits and the need to preserve wildlife.
To get a firsthand look, the Sierra Club's Seal Society docents will offer a talk followed by short walk to see harbor seals pupping at the beach.