A San Diego beach's "Seal Cam" has captured video of a pair of women apparently harassing the area's harbor seals -- some of which are pregnant -- in the middle of the night.
The web camera was set up in January to monitor the seal colony that lives in the La Jolla Cove area, according to the Associated Press. The high-def technology includes infrared capability because many of the seals are pregnant.
Video shows a pair of women apparently hitting the marine mammals, according to CBS affiliate KFMB.
"Sitting on them, pulling their flippers, kicking them, flashing lights in their faces -- until each and every one of them is driven off the beach," Larry Wan, founder of the Western Alliance for Nature, told the station.
Fox5 San Diego reports that while the women were allowed on the beach, they were supposed to stay behind a rope intended to separate people from the animals.
Dr. Jane Reldan, a proponent of the "Seal Cam," told Fox5 that said she was horrified by the video.
"Knowing that they're pregnant and chasing them into water and doing gestures and sitting on them,” Reldan said, “I think it’s a horror show.”
How to deal with seals in the Children's Pool area -- a location known for its harbor seals -- has been a complicated and controversial issue, San Diego SealWatch notes. The advocacy group writes that for years, a group of activists has attempted to "discourage the seals from coming back to the beach by scaring them into the ocean."
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.