Hidden cameras have caught drunken revellers in San Diego “beating up” mother seals and their newborn pups, forcing the local mayor to close the city's beaches at night.
The cameras were initially installed in January as a 24-hour monitoring system for those wanting to watch seals give birth during the pupping season.
But as night fell on La Jolla beach, which is also known locally as Children's Pool, far more sinister acts were captured on the cameras' night vision setting.
Footage showed people repeatedly kicking, punching and sitting on top of the adult seals and their pups. The animals were seemingly unable to escape the violence as they move awkwardly on land.
Yesterday, the Mayor of San Diego Bob Filner said the beach will be closed between sunset and sunrise until May 15 in response to the seal attacks.
As the cameras have only been in place since January, it is not known how long the abuse has been going on.
La Jolla beach has long been at the centre of a legal fight over human access versus seal protection in the San Diego area.