The seal colony at Children's Pool was artificially created to build a tourist attraction. It required a collusion between the City, Hubbs Sea World Research Center and the National Marine Fisheries Service, over a decade of secret exploitation of the nature of harbor seals intended to be released "to the wild" after capture and care.
To download documents to show your incredulous friends just hit the blue links below.
In supoened testimony the secret came out during the proceedings of O'Sullivan vs City of San Diego, revealing an arrangement begun under former Mayor Goldng to divert seals to La Jolla after their care in the Sea World rescue program. Beginning in 1992, the program funded by donations and government grants was altered.
From the Tentative Decision written by Judge Pate after the trial, (31 pages of scathing indictment of City behavior) we find on page 22:
Plaintiff cites to the fact that since at least 1997, Hubbs-SeaWorld has been engaged in a rescue, rehabilitation and release program under the aegis of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration ...... The release of harbor seals is accomplished generally in the kelp beds immediately outside the Children's Pool. Tagged harbor seals are routinely observed hauling-out at the Children's Pool.
The altered release destination actually was adopted in 1993, as was shown in data from National Marine Fisheries below, which is obligated by law to record the circumstances of every released seal, and had to give up the data under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Judge Pate also wrote on page 27:
. The City knew of the release of harbor seals near the Children's Pool by Hubbs-SeaWorid and did nothing about the build-up of seals at the Pool. "
And on page 30:
The creation of the Reserve in close proximity to the Children's Pool and the release by Sea World of rehabilitated harbor seals in the kelp beds off-shore of the Pool, seem to have contributed to an increasing number of seals using portions of the Children's Pool in the mid-1990's. The City's decision to separate the seals from humans and then closing off the Pool to humans, likewise appears to have encouraged the seals to occupy more and more of the beach with ever increasing numbers."
The Data that NMFS collected is summarized in their spreadsheet with columns of 1's added on the right to allow summations of seal destinations from 1992 to 2003. Other years show release miles out to sea, almost to Mexico as was done with seal lions during all years. An example release data form is included here, note where the seal was deposited. They knew exactly what they were doing.
To show the scale of the data, it is set into 4 maps of San Diego, the first before 1992 and the next 3 during the following decade, when the "Miracle of the Seals" was first reported.
Sea World Resources
The SeaWorld Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Program Actions
See how Sea World acclimates seals to love people before they are released