Published on Feb 20, 2013
Police in San Diego, California are hunting two woman caught on camera cruelly harassing local harbor seals in the middle of the night. The attackers were recorded by a special 'Seal Cam,' which was set up in the La Jolla Cove area in January to monitor the seal colony and help protect pregnant seals and their pups from potential harassment.
Footage shows one women sitting on the seals, pulling their flippers and kicking them, while another woman films her and takes photographs causing a flashing light to go off in the animal's faces.
Clearly disturbed, one by one the animals return to sea to avoid the abuse.
The women's behavior has been branded a 'horror show' by the local seal activist who initially proposing the high-def technology which includes infrared capability to monitor the seals at night.
'Knowing that they're pregnant and chasing them into water and doing gestures and sitting on them,' Dr. Jane Reldan told Fox5 San Diego, 'I think it's a horror show.'
While the women aren't breaking any law by being on the beach, they are supposed to stay behind a rope intended to mark out an area saved for the animals.
Even before the installation of the surveillance camera at the La Jolla Children's Pool in January, there was been a growing controversy for many years regarding if the harbor seals and human residents can happily co-exist on the beach.
Many locals are unhappy about their access to the water being restricted by a section being roped off between December and May for the seals to use during pupping season.
Marine mammals, including seals, whales, dolphins, sea otters and other animals, are all protected under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which makes it illegal to harass, feed, hunt, capture, collect or kill any marine mammal or part of a marine mammal, according to the Marine Mammal Center.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, harbor seals live in temperate coastal areas, including both the west and east coasts of the United States.
The mammals 'haul out' of the water to rest, regulate their temperatures, interact with each other and to give birth.
Since the incident, San Diego police have been patrolling the beach around the clock.