Swimming with dolphins is cool, but in San Diego, there's a beach where you can hang out with seals! Well, kind of, at least-- you get get pretty close to them, which is still pretty rad. It's called the Children's Pool, and it wasn't always the San Diego version of South Beach, but for adorable marine mammals. It used to just be a normal beach with the occasional seal.


It all started in the 1930's, when local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps donated money to have a wave wall built at what was then called Casa Beach. The rocky terrain made it easy to enclose a section of the ocean in a wall that would protect swimmers inside from the often-large waves crashing onto the shore. Basically, kids, snorkelers, and divers would be able to enjoy the ocean in relative safety. Railings were also placed along the top of the wall so that people could walk across it. Of course, walling off the beach has caused part of the pool to fill up with sand, but that wasn't the only unintended consequence of creating the pool...


The beach and its calm waters began to attract more than just human families-- seals were also fond of the spot, and began to flock to it in increasing numbers. But, while its fun to hang out with the seals, they've also caused some problems for humans on the beach. There are so many seals there that it's not suggested that people swim in the water because of "fecal contamination" from the critters. Yikes. The "contamination" got so out of control that it had to be closed for a period!


The seals have caused some controversy over the future of the Children's Pool Beach-- should it be made a seal sanctuary? Should it be totally closed to humans? Should the seals be moved out so humans can swim again? As it is now, you can get close (but not onto the beach, as of right now) to the nearly 200 seals who frequent the beach... they are wild animals, after all!


We love San Diego! Here are some other places to explore in this sunny city:

Stay classy with Ron Burgundy's guide to San Diego

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The secret history of San Diego's Balboa Park

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The world's wildest campground is in the San Diego Zoo!

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Header via Flickr/TripBucket