GIANT MALE SEA LIONS come ashore at the Cove in La Jolla, California. People walk right up to the large group of giant male sea lions and stand less than 3 feet away to take their photos. Children are not supervised by parents and scamper close to the sea lions. Other parents hold tiny children in their arms and stand with their backs to the wild sea lions who are snapping their jaws at each other. It’s a family event. Bring the little children and even a tiny dog on a lease into the herd. People laugh at 300 pound males snapping at each other, showing their huge teeth as the people step even closer and crouch down for a photo. One man even runs up to a sleeping male sea lion and touches him as his girlfriend videos him and they both are laughing with delight as the sea lion quickly turns his head and tries to bite the man to protect himself from harassment.
I see this scenario over & over & over again with both the sea lions and the harbor seals. I have to wonder why this happens. Why do all these people behave as if they are not with wild animals, but behave as if they are at a petting zoo or SeaWorld? Are people so immune from nature that their instincts to protect themselves and their children from extremely large wild animals no longer exist? Why is the mindset that I need to have a photo of myself as close as possible to this wild creature, even if it terrifies, or even harms, the animal? (Seals have abandoned their pups because of interference by people taking their photos.) Putting up a rope barrier with signs requesting people to stay back and to respect the wildlife does no good. People simply ignore the signs clearly thinking none of this applies to ME. Even though these marine mammals are federally protected, it does no good. Why do people not realize that this is a rare opportunity to observe marine mammals in the wild and to educate their children about nature? It makes me so sad and I don’t know what the answer is.