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CA - Crowds Removing Sea Creatures from San Pedro Tide Pools put Delicate Ecosystem at Risk

LOS ANGELES — It was against the backdrop of a pounding surf one recent morning that almost 30 people had gathered on the cragged and slippery folds of White Point tidal pools in San Pedro and set to work with gardening spades, buckets and bags.

As ocean water rippled about their knees, they collected mussels, black turban snails, purple sea urchins and even a lobster. Then, as the tide began to rise, they trundled back to their cars hauling sacks, backpacks and 5-gallon buckets filled with intertidal creatures.

"It's a fun way to spend the day and grab a free dinner," said Lisa Yan, 55, an unemployed casino card dealer. "Especially for those of us who lost jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. ... All you need is a fishing license."

Area residents and officials say that ever since beach restrictions were lifted at this popular Palos Verdes Peninsula spot, an unprecedented number of people have been harvesting edible sea creatures — animals that had, up until recently, enjoyed relative solitude during the coronavirus lockdown.

In prior years, animal harvesting was far less common, and tidal pool etiquette held that creatures should not be disturbed.

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