Dictionary 27. Learning to Share

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The seal population just south of Monterey, California, is making life difficult for the surfer population. There have been several incidents in the past month of surfers being bitten or attacked by seals. Scientists think it is merely a result of overcrowding. Over the past 10 years, the seals have made "their" beach bigger to suit their growing population.

The seal-loving activists say that the surfers should surf elsewhere. They say that the surfers are infringing on the seals' territory and making them nervous and irritable. Sometimes, when there are too many surfers, they actually cause the seals to leave the beach. This, the activists say, deprives nature lovers of the opportunity to enjoy watching and listening to the seals. The activists argue that this area should be off limits to surfers.

Surfers, of course, don't see it quite that way. They think that it's good if the seals get hit in the head with a loose surfboard occasionally, because that will teach them to stay on their rocks and stay away from the surfers' part of the beach.

"They shouldn't be allowed to have their rocks and our beach, too," exclaimed one blond, tan, thin 16-year-old who refused to identify himself. "All these seals think about is me, me, me! They need to learn to share. Can't someone just train them to clear out of here from about 1:00 to sunset? They could come back here and stay all night and all morning. That makes sense to me."

The park service is going to hold a public hearing on the issue. They know it's going to be a tough issue to settle, because neither the activists nor the surfers seem willing to compromise. A similar issue in San Diego was settled in the seals' favor. Surfers were prohibited from using the seals' area. Mysteriously, the seals eventually vacated that particular area, and the surfers were allowed to return.


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