Mon, Jul 08, 2013 - Page 7 News List

FEATURE: Hungry seagulls taking a toll on young whales

OUT OF ORDER:An overpopulation of gulls is blamed for the increasing attacks on southern right whales, interrupting the nursing cycle for calves


About 10km from the fishing port of Puerto Madryn, Bertoletti looks on as a monstrous flock of up to 8,000 gulls feed madly on rotting fish remains at a landfill. Those remains are supposed to be buried, but companies rarely do that, so the gulls gorge themselves on fish heads, tails and guts that helps their numbers multiply.

“This is like a McDonald’s for seagulls,” Bertoletti said.

Whales of the same species in waters off South Africa or Australia have no seagull problem, so scientists reckon the Argentine phenomenon is caused by seagull overpopulation.

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