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Two ongoing controversies look pretty much the same at first glance: seals congregating around La Jolla Children’s Pool, and sea lions loitering at La Jolla Cove.

So why have animal-rights advocates been fighting to keep visitors away from the Children’s Pool seals while encouraging them to get closer to the cove’s sea lions?

The latter debate comes down to stench. Business owners and residents in La Jolla object to the pervasive smell coming from sea lion droppings. The lawyer who led the charge to protect the Children’s Pool seals is now pushing for a fence to come down at the cove. Bryan Pease and fellow attorney Norm Blumenthal argue taking down the fence would force the sea lions to relocate — and take their poop with them.

One of the factors playing into the divergent treatments of these animals could be their zoological differences.

In this edition of San Diego Explained, Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt and NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia advise how to tell the two apart should you stumble upon them on your next La Jolla excursion.

Catherine Green

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

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