Category Archives: Harbor Seal

Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Contest: Pacific Harbor Seal, La Jolla, California

Harbor Seal, La Jolla, Tear Sheets

Cute Harbor Seal Photo, La Jolla, California.

This is the third of three images I had that were Highly Commended in this year’s Windland Smith Rice photography competition.*

This is one of the famous or, depending on your political position, notorious Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) the reside at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla, California. Some people really hate these seals and feel their presence on the beach has robbed people of the use of small cove and want to see the seals gone, forcefully or otherwise. Others love the seals and don’t want to see them bothered at all. I don’t really care either way, I just like to shoot photos of them. I’ve been photographing (and diving with) these seals since their colony first began forming in the ’90s. There are certain times of day when the light angles and water movement really work well here for photography. On this day, one of the more charismatic seals was moving about at the water’s edge and paused for a moment with its flippers raised, looking at me. I got off a series of photos and this was the most appealing of the group.

Pacific harbor seal, an sand at the edge of the sea, Phoca vitulina richardsi, La Jolla, California

Pacific harbor seal, an sand at the edge of the sea.
Image ID: 26315
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

* I was fortunate to have three of my photographs receive Highly Honored recognition in this years Windland Smith Rice photography competition sponsored by Nature’s Best Photography. The first was a photo of photographer Garry McCarthy working in the Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park. The second was a composition of the Giants Marbles in Joshua Tree National Park. 21,000 images were entered in the competition, 500 made it to the final round of judging and 131 were winners or highly honored and appeared in the most recent issue of Nature’s Best Photography magazine. I am crossing my fingers that one of mine will also be featured as part of the competition’s six-month exhibition next year at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

Cute Harbor Seal

California, Harbor Seal, Wildlife

This harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) was quite animated. Most of the harbor seals lie on the sand throughout the day, resting between foraging sessions in the ocean, while younger/smaller seals seem to exhibit most of the activity. It is nearly February and just about time for newborn harbor seal pups to start appearing among the colony.

Pacific harbor seal, an sand at the edge of the sea, Phoca vitulina richardsi, La Jolla, California

Pacific harbor seal, an sand at the edge of the sea.
Image ID: 26315
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Pacific harbor seal, an sand at the edge of the sea, Phoca vitulina richardsi, La Jolla, California

Pacific harbor seal, an sand at the edge of the sea.
Image ID: 26320
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Not What It Looks Like

Harbor Seal, Wildlife

At first glance this looks like a typical mother and pup harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi) pair. Its pupping season right now and this scene is repeated on the Children’s Pool beach all day long. However, this pup struggling, and appeared to me to perhaps have been abandoned. At least it had not hooked up with its mother in the several hours that I was there, and one of the seal people told me that they had identified it as separated from its mother since at least 5am that morning. While the mother was hopefully out in the water foraging, five hours is a fairly long time for a mother to be away from her days-old pup. If indeed the pup was abandoned, it is almost certainly doomed. Another nursing mother with her own pup cannot adopt a second, since she likely will not produce enough milk to nurse both pups until they are weaned. The only reprieve it would have is finding a mother who is still lactating but has lost her own pup and decides to adopt it, a situation that has been known to occur. It was heartbreaking to listen to the pup’s cries as it swam and crawled about the beach looking for its mother. As it did so, it would approach most of the adults and try to nurse. Some adults would simply roll over or move away, while others would give it a whack with their foreflipper. Mothers with their own pups were quite aggressive, biting and shoving the lone pup with vigor. The adult seen here did allow the pup to approach, and the two sniffed one another nose to nose in the typical mother-pup fashion. But moments after this image was taken, the adult whacked the pup across the face repeatedly. It was a tough scene to watch. Most of the crowd that had gathered on the bluff to see the pups (which were featured in the paper recently) laughed as this little one (and others) moved about the beach, but I am pretty sure that few fully appreciated the predicament this particular pup was in. Hopefully mother showed up after I left and all was well.

Pacific harbor seals, a tiny pup nuzzles an adult (not its mother), Phoca vitulina richardsi, La Jolla, California

Pacific harbor seals, a tiny pup nuzzles an adult (not its mother).
Image ID: 20446
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Here is another image of the little pup, crying while a nearby adult ignores it.

Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi, La Jolla, California

Pacific harbor seal.
Image ID: 20452
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Photo of Seals on the Sand

California, Harbor Seal, Wildlife

On a recent morning I dropped by the pelican bluff and found it pretty crowded so instead I shot harbor seals just around the bend. It was a fine morning and I had the beach to myself at the Children’s Pool. Here are a few portraits of the harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) on the sand.

Pacific harbor seal on wet sandy beach, Phoca vitulina richardsi, La Jolla, California

Pacific harbor seal on wet sandy beach.
Image ID: 20214
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Pacific harbor seals on sandy beach at the edge of the ocean, Phoca vitulina richardsi, La Jolla, California

Pacific harbor seals on sandy beach at the edge of the ocean.
Image ID: 20213
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Pacific harbor seal on wet sandy beach, Phoca vitulina richardsi, La Jolla, California

Pacific harbor seal on wet sandy beach.
Image ID: 20228
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Humane Society Sues to Protect Seals

California, Harbor Seal, La Jolla

From the San Diego Union Tribune:

U.S. Humane Society sues S.D., demands rope barrier for seals

By Ray Huard
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
February 26, 2005

The Humane Society of the United States filed suit yesterday against the city of San Diego, demanding that officials restore a rope barrier at La Jolla Children’s Pool beach part of the year to protect newborn seal pups. “Our marine scientists are telling us that the presence of the barrier during pupping season is crucial to make sure harbor seal pups are not killed,” said Jon Lovvorn, Humane Society vice president for animal protection litigation. (continued…)

Read The Full Story

Read Our Opinion Regarding Protection of the La Jolla Seals

A Pacific harbor seal hauls out on a rock.  This group of harbor seals, which has formed a breeding colony at a small but popular beach near San Diego, is at the center of considerable controversy.  While harbor seals are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other legislation, local interests would like to see the seals leave so that people can resume using the beach, Phoca vitulina richardsi, La Jolla, California

A Pacific harbor seal hauls out on a rock. This group of harbor seals, which has formed a breeding colony at a small but popular beach near San Diego, is at the center of considerable controversy. While harbor seals are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other legislation, local interests would like to see the seals leave so that people can resume using the beach.
Image ID: 03011
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

A Pacific harbor seal hauls out on a sandy beach.  This group of harbor seals, which has formed a breeding colony at a small but popular beach near San Diego, is at the center of considerable controversy.  While harbor seals are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other legislation, local interests would like to see the seals leave so that people can resume using the beach, Phoca vitulina richardsi, La Jolla, California

A Pacific harbor seal hauls out on a sandy beach. This group of harbor seals, which has formed a breeding colony at a small but popular beach near San Diego, is at the center of considerable controversy. While harbor seals are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other legislation, local interests would like to see the seals leave so that people can resume using the beach.
Image ID: 01925
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

A mother Pacific harbor seal and her newborn pup swim in the protected waters of Childrens Pool in La Jolla, California.  This group of harbor seals, which has formed a breeding colony at a small but popular beach near San Diego, is at the center of considerable controversy.  While harbor seals are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other legislation, local interests would like to see the seals leave so that people can resume using the beach, Phoca vitulina richardsi

A mother Pacific harbor seal and her newborn pup swim in the protected waters of Childrens Pool in La Jolla, California. This group of harbor seals, which has formed a breeding colony at a small but popular beach near San Diego, is at the center of considerable controversy. While harbor seals are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other legislation, local interests would like to see the seals leave so that people can resume using the beach.
Image ID: 02134
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California, USA