It’s hard to resist the big eyes and soft fur of a young baby seal. And watching them lumber along on the sand is just plain cute.  But in La Jolla, California, a community in San Diego, cute little seals are competing for space with cute little children.

A breakwater was erected in La Jolla in 1931 to create a small cove now known as the Children’s Pool. As you might expect by the name, in past years the main visitors to this beach were always children. Nowadays, however, the beach belongs to harbor seals and California sea lions, which are an excellent photo opportunity for tourists, who can safely and closely observe them from the breakwater.

Not everyone is happy about this. Advocates for the children say that the beach was created for people, not animals, and they are sorry to see the Children’s Pool water so contaminated it is no longer safe for swimming; advocates for the seals point out there are other available beaches for kids, and that the seals need a home.

In the early years of the controversy, the argument for people seemed to take the upper hand (see local news articles). But more recently, the seals have been protected, and except for some retaliatory incidents, things are going well for the seals.

If you are a subscriber to Zootles, you have read all about these marine mammals in your current issue, Seals. We’d appreciate hearing your take on the controversy–and if you happen to have visited the Children’s Pool in person, we’d like to hear about your experience.