“We had 54 pups,” said Ellen Shively, presidient of the Seal Conservancy of San Diego (formerly La Jolla Friends of the Seals). “it's slightly above average from past years, when we've had 46 or so.”
The goal of the nonprofit wildlife group is to preserve the La Jolla harbor seal colony for ecological, educational, scientific, historic and scenic opportunities.
“We're celebrating the seals and a successful pupping season, and we are raising financial resources to continue our advocacy for the seals,” said Adrian Kwiatkowski, the conservancy's executive director.
Kwiatkowski said the group's name was changed because “it more accurately reflects our membership of not only La Jolla residents but also a broader scope of seal advocacy.”
Special guests during the two-hour celebration included San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald and Judith Garfield, a diver, marine naturalist, columnist and author of “Latest Findings of Our Resident Harbor Seals.” The event at the gallery, 7916 Girard Ave., also featured a silent auction.
Asked about encountering the seals during her many dives, Garfield noted, “Harbor seals are very shy.”
She said she's been fortunate to have had a “a couple of fantastic experiences” in encounters with seals.
“I don't approach them,” Garfield said. “If they want to come, they will.”
Shively said seals can live up to 30 years and that they become sexually mature at age 5.
The La Jolla gallery is one of eight belonging to wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen, who lives near Yellowstone Park and was friends with the late “Spence” Wilson, former manager of La Jola's defunct Cove Theater.
Kathy Hatch, manager of Mangelsen's La Jolla Village gallery, said the 68-year-old wildlife photographer, son of a Nebraska dime store owner, has been in the museum photography business for 40 years now. Hatch said Mangelsen has an exhibit currently showing at the Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.
Seal docents at Children's Pool, numbering more than a dozen, were also saluted at the Seal-a-bration.