Meanwhile, over the past year, eight sea lions were found riddled with bullets on San Diego County beaches. Six of the shootings occurred in the last three months.
The City of San Diego, La Valencia Hotel and George's Restaurant did not respond to interview requests. And though the sea lions seem to tolerate the attention, that doesn't mean it's good for them.
"There are two types of harassment, both of which are illegal without a permit," Sharon Young, marine issues field director at the Humane Society of the U.S., told The Dodo. "Level A Harassment has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild," she said. "Level B Harassment has the potential to disturb a marine mammal...by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering."
According to a webpage at the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is charged with enforcing the MMPA, viewing marine mammals must be conducted in a manner that does not harass them, such as "closely approaching, interacting, or attempting to interact with [marine mammals]. This includes attempting to swim with, pet, touch, or elicit a reaction from the animals." Violators face fines between $100 and $13,000.