Tourists are ‘loving sea lions to death’ in La Jolla

Tourists are ‘loving sea lions to death’ in La Jolla

Outdoors

Tourists are ‘loving sea lions to death’ in La Jolla

Andrea Hahn, a long-time animal rights activist who has filmed seals and sea lions since 1994, videotaped what she says is some of the worst harassment of the animals by tourists she has seen.

Using Facebook, Hahn posted a three-day compilation of video Sunday of tourists breaking the law along the shores of La Jolla, California, and it was featured in a story produced by ABC 10 News of San Diego.

“You’re loving the animal to death, basically; you’re loving it to death,” Hahn told ABC 10 News. “You are keeping the animal from sleeping. You are disturbing its behavior…

“People are not getting it. Tourists think because they paid money to get here they have the right to grapple with the animals. There are perfectly good laws on the books and people are ignoring them and the government is not enforcing the laws.”

Tourists walk right up to seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove. Photo by © Pete Thomas used with permission.

In her Facebook post, Hahn detailed some of the more egregious infractions, writing, “A compilation of the last 3 days in which we find an infinite supply of hovering tourists who in close proximity to the seals and sea lions bring along big dogs, kids with lacrosse sticks, their love at the end of a selfie stick, metal shovels to defend themselves with, and a woman who tells a distraught, pregnant, horrifically harassed Sea Lioness to stop complaining and just go back to sleep.”

Hahn was particularly upset over a woman with a shovel.

“She just had to go right between them,” Hahn told ABC 10 News. “She caused two flushes [in which sea lions feel forced to flee into the ocean]. I didn’t care for that because the females are very pregnant.”

A “no-selfie” sign was recently posted at South Casa Beach to remind visitors that seals and sea lions are a federally protected species and it is illegal to disturb them.

Seals and sea lions are federally protected and tourists need to stay away. Photo by © Pete Thomas used with permission.

Unfortunately these misguided encounters have been a problem for years, and continue to be.

“[People are] throwing their drinks at them,” Hahn told The Dodo recently. “I have been told by a lifeguard that they even try to put lighted cigarettes in their mouths. The public are here to enjoy themselves, and as the law is not being enforced, they are free to do as they please.”

Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, agrees with Hahn that more needs to be done to protect these animals from harassment.

“It’s extremely stressful for them, and there have been numerous pups who have died as a result,” Watson told The Dodo. “Barriers should be put up to keep the public from approaching them. And if anybody goes over those barriers, they should be charged.”

Photos by © Pete Thomas used with permission.

Follow David Strege and BNQT Outdoors on Facebook  and Twitter.

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