Life

The Seal Beach Battle of San Diego Bay: How Conservation Efforts Ended a Fiery Feud over Shared Public Space

   San Diego is located at the southern tip of the state of California, and its beaches have always been a favorite place for people to relax. However, every seal breeding season, there will be a large number of seals carrying their newborn cubs from the North Pacific to rest on the beach in San Diego, and put on a posture of not leaving. The citizens could only give up their space and watch these uninvited guests bathing in the sun.
   The appearance of the seals divided the people into two factions and debated for a long time, and finally went to court many times. Under the proposal of the governor of California, the local government amended the law to protect the seals, clarifying the seal’s right to “quiet lunch break”. People didn’t expect that they gave up a piece of beach in exchange for another beautiful scenery.
  Raid, Seals Are Coming In
   early summer 2015, it was beach-bathing season for San Diego residents. San Diego’s long and narrow coast is the best place for humans to enjoy the sun, the most famous of which is Angel Beach.
   Angel Beach was originally a neglected beach. In 1930, a wealthy old man in San Diego discovered that whenever the tide fell, a circle of unique reefs would appear outside the beach, shaped like an arm reaching out to the sea, creating a natural harbor. So, at his expense, a solid berm was built on the reef. Like this, regardless of wind and tide, the inner side of the berm is always calm. After the project was completed, he issued a statement: This beach sheltered from wind and waves will be dedicated to the city of San Diego as a gift, and every citizen has the right to board this beach and play here.
   In 1931, the city government officially took over the beach and wrote the people’s right to play here into California law. Unexpectedly, the seawater engulfed in silt washes against the harbor day and night. Due to the silting of the silt, the playing port gradually shrinks, and a flat beach replaces it. Here, it has gradually become the best sunbathing place for San Diego people for decades.
   Unexpectedly, when the residents came to the beach, they were stunned by the scene in front of them. The beach has been taken over by hordes of seals. There are probably hundreds of these fat guys. They are lying lazily on the beach, enjoying the warm sunshine, while the young seals are playing on the beach, making sharp calls from time to time.
   In previous years, there will also be seals on Angel Beach, but the number is far from such a huge one. They usually hide in the reefs by the sea, and occasionally show their small faces, coveting the empty beach.
   Bold residents entered the beach, and the seals seemed to be completely unafraid of the arrival of humans because of the large number. On the contrary, they are like their masters, staring curiously at the people who come to them.
   Gradually, the number of people on the beach increased. The narrow beach is starting to get crowded. Probably feeling disturbed, the group of seals suddenly became restless.
   A child named Pulis curiously extended his hand to the little seal. In an instant, the big seal on one side attacked him. The sharp teeth pierced Pulis’s palm, and suddenly, there was chaos on the Angel Beach.
   Price’s father Tom smashed the seal with a beer bottle he had brought. More people were afraid of being attacked by seals and left the beach in disorder.
   That night, San Diego TV broadcast related news: the seals were still staying at Angel Beach. This has made San Diego residents question why so many seals are suddenly coming to Angel Beach, and when will they retreat? Will people lose this sunbathing paradise forever because of this!
   The question was soon answered. The group of seals put on a lingering posture, twisted their chubby bodies to seize the place with the most sunlight, and then lay there on all fours to bask in the sun, while the little seals Rolling around on the sand, having fun.
   In the hospital, the doctor confirmed that Pulis’ right palmar nerve was damaged, and after the wound healed, it would also leave functional obstacles.
   Tom was angry, and he came to Angel Beach with a gun to avenge his son. The bullets howled and wounded six seals, and the scarlet blood stained the sea. The seal group became agitated, but instead of retreating, they opened their mouths and crawled towards Tom quickly. Suddenly, a strong fishy smell made Tom hide his face, and his nausea made him spin. After he fled the beach in embarrassment, the seals yelled and seemed to be demonstrating.
   More troublesome things happened, the animal protection organization sued Tom. According to relevant laws, Tom needs to pay a huge amount of fines and accept three months in prison.
   For a while, the citizens of San Diego could not see the hope of regaining Angel Beach. The rights that have been passed down for decades and written into the legal clauses were just taken away by a group of seals! Zoologists also said that the coast near San Diego is no longer suitable for seals to breed in summer due to years of silt. Therefore, seals gather at Angel Beach and are no longer afraid of humans. That means the seals won’t be leaving until the summer.
  Struggles, frequent strange tricks
   The appearance of seals divided the people into two factions. One group of people believes that the original intention of the donors should be implemented, the state laws should be followed, the seals should be expelled and returned to the people, and people’s right to leisure should be maintained!
   The other faction is headed by animal protectionists. They believe that people should make concessions, abandon the bay, and establish a seal reserve, so that tourists cannot come near it. Because seals are not used to getting along with people, once frightened, it is very easy to cause miscarriage, and the succession of the family becomes a big problem. For the rights and interests of seals, they began to march and demonstrate, and constantly appealed through the media that the natural environment is not only for human beings, but also for seals. People just want to enjoy life, while seals want to reproduce. After all, who needs Angel Beach more?
   The two factions debated for a long time, and finally went to court. A San Diego lawyer named Wood decided to take up legal weapons to defend his rights. He wanted to use the law to expel the seals.
   As a result of the trial, even the judge was confused, because federal law stipulates that a minimum distance of 50 feet should be maintained between people and seals, while local laws rule that people enjoy the right to go to the beach forever. Laws cannot be subservient to each other, let alone abolished unilaterally. Lawsuits cycle through rounds of appeals, hearings, resolutions, and overturning resolutions.
   The San Diego government has also made various attempts to take a softer approach to getting the seals to leave. The government convened experts to find sea areas suitable for seal growth and found that it would require an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars to bear fruit. Moreover, forcible capture will definitely attract opposition, and even be taken to court by animal protection organizations.
   Some experts suggested to the government that speakers could be placed on the beach to continuously play the sound of dogs barking, so that seals who are afraid of dogs barking can leave on their own. The city of San Diego took the plan to court, but the court rejected it on the grounds that it was contrary to animal welfare and rights.
   The “Human-Leopard Controversy” lasted until the end of autumn that year, and the seals left one after another, looking for suitable places to spend the winter. This gave the city of San Diego a respite.
   In the spring of 2016, the San Diego city government planned to renovate the beach where the seals used to live, so that when the summer came, the seals would no longer occupy Angel Beach. However, after field investigation, it was found that after years of erosion and environmental changes, it is impossible for those beaches and sea areas to restore a suitable environment.

   At the beginning of summer, the SEALs arrived as scheduled, rushed to San Diego from the islands in the Pacific Ocean, and once again occupied Angel Beach. At this time, the citizens were angry, they no longer believed in the government’s promises, and some people started netting on the beach, catching seals, and throwing them into the sea far away. But this method didn’t work. Those seals that were thrown into the open sea returned to this precious place accurately within two or three days, as if they were equipped with GPS.
   Moreover, the news that seals and residents competed for the beach is no longer limited to San Diego, and many domestic media in the United States have cast their attention. Animal protection organizations claim to defend the rights of seals, and have taken videos of seals being captured and broadcast them online, calling on people not to be so rough and narrow-minded towards seals.
   Many stubborn citizens went to the beach to swim with the seals. As a result, due to the accumulation of seal feces, the E. coli in the seawater exceeded the standard, causing many people to contract diseases.
   In July 2017, a citizen of San Diego uploaded a shocking video on a social networking site. In the video, a family of three was watching the sunset on the edge of Angel Beach and was besieged by seals. Soon, the two adults were covered with scars and blood flowed all over the body, and the child was bitten through the neck by sharp teeth, his limbs twitched, and his life and death were unknown.
   The video caused a new round of storms, and residents of San Diego discovered that danger was around them. Many people rushed to Angel Beach with weapons and hounds. In the bark of the hounds, the seal was bitten and scarred, with fat and muscle dragged out. Animal protection organizations launched a lawsuit against the San Diego city government, and several of the largest television stations in the United States followed up and reported the news.
   On July 22, 2017, the largest parade since the establishment of the city took place in San Diego. Residents held up banners that read: “Return our Angel Beach.”
   The dispute did not come to an end until the autumn came, when the seals receded. The relieved San Diego city government turned to the United States to find a solution to the “Human-Leopard Controversy”.
   It didn’t take long for San Diego police officer Johnson to spot a small boat on Angel Beach when he was patrolling at dawn. He went over and saw two seals in the boat. After careful questioning, I learned that people are busy with a project called “Recovering Angels”. It turned out that some residents planned to start in autumn and winter, catching seals or selling them to aquariums or circuses. They want to get rid of these enemies, so that they will not appear in the summer of the next year.
   Although for “war”, this is not a good way to win. But doing so violated the relevant laws, Johnson had to stop this behavior, and wrote a report on the situation to his superiors.
   The miscarriage of the “Recovering Angels” project led to the return of the seals in the summer of 2018. And from the perspective of the number of groups, it has expanded compared to before. This makes the residents almost desperate, and the possibility of regaining Angel Beach is getting smaller and smaller.
  Concession, perfect solution
   In April 2019, the residents made another move. After several years of fighting, these residents have a sufficient understanding of the habits of seals. They are going to drop glass shards and some pungent chemicals in the sand and gravel on Angel Beach. They even rented a few seals from the circus to see which smell was more repulsive to the seals.
   Once Angel Beach is thrown debris, the sea water is likely to be polluted. This pollution will bring great harm to the marine environment and the living environment of San Diego City. It appears that several years of “war” have destroyed the sanity of the residents.
   Come May, seals start to appear on the beach. On May 17, a girl about ten years old walked into the beach, and she ran towards the seal pack. Everyone remembered the video on the Internet, someone shouted, telling the girl to come back quickly.
   This girl named Felina was on a business trip with her father to San Diego. It was the first time she saw so many seals outside the aquarium. Felina’s father ran to the beach quickly, ready to take his daughter away. However, Felina had already squatted down in front of a seal cub, she took out a fish fillet from her pocket, and handed it to the cub. The adult seal, which had been eyeing her fiercely, did not attack.
   The little seal twitched its nose, smelled the fish fillets, and suddenly cried out happily. Felina’s father had arrived at this time, and he dragged his daughter away from the beach quickly. The little seal swallowed the fish fillet and ran after Filina, its clumsy appearance was very cute.
   The scene in front of them stunned many passers-by. Someone took out his mobile phone and recorded the scene.
   Soon, the video was uploaded to the Internet, and the number of views soared to millions within a few days. Many people began to reflect, if they get along with seals in a different way, would it make things easier?
   After watching the video, a biology student named Louis came to Angel Beach with his classmates. They wanted to verify one thing: whether seals can coexist peacefully with people and share Angel Beach.
   At the request of Louis, the participants were not allowed to attack the seals, and kept a certain distance from the adult seals. They could feed some fish to the seals, but it was forbidden to touch or touch them at close range.
   Through this activity, it was found that the seals seemed lazy and calm, and did not pay much attention to people entering the beach. Moreover, juvenile seals have a mischievous nature. After being fed food, they can play with humans like pets.
   When the governor of California learned of this, he launched a project aimed at the harmonious coexistence of humans and animals. He believes that on the beach, humans and seals should not be enemies, but should be friends who live in harmony. He proposed to the state legislature a plan to build a seal theme park, give up a beach to seals, and build protection facilities between humans and seals. . In this way, both humans and seals have a space for leisure, the seals will not harm people, and people can appreciate the seals up close. This proposal was endorsed by the California Legislature.
   After two years of cleaning and construction, Angel Beach has become clean and beautiful again. Experts have cordoned off areas favored by some seals with yellow ropes to warn people not to trespass.
   The government changed the law to protect seals, clarifying the seal’s right to a “quiet lunch break”. Therefore, the billboards on Angel Beach can be seen everywhere, and there are two statements uniformly written: Please note that the law protects people from boarding the beach at any time; please note that it is illegal to disturb the rest of the seals. Some signs have other content, such as “do not approach the seals, you will cause a miscarriage to the female leopard and the death of the seal pup”.
   Yellow ropes and signs turn the beach into a legal gray area, but they are not useless: let the beach be crowded, the newly landed seals are stranded in the waves, and the seal packs just don’t cross the yellow line to seize the territory. On the other side of the yellow line, the naive attitude of the seals made people laugh out loud, and no one crossed the line. The seal group and the crowd seem to be arrayed on the battlefield, but they still do not disturb each other.
   The “Human-Leopard Controversy” has finally come to an end. For the residents of San Diego and the seals, this result is a victory.
   And a bigger surprise is still waiting for the city of San Diego. Human beings gave up a beach in exchange for another beautiful scenery. Because of the seal theme park, San Diego has become a world-renowned tourist destination. Enjoying the sunshine and getting close to seals has become the most dazzling business card of San Diego.
   Local residents have also found new opportunities from the hot tourism industry and gained a lot of wealth. The residents also voluntarily donated money and established the Seal Foundation, which is used to gradually improve the living environment of the seals and create good medical conditions for the seals.

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