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Soundings Archive

Killer Gulls Endanger Right Whales
Right whale mothers and their calves spend so much time fleeing kelp gulls that the whales are unable to develop the fat reserves they need for their long migrations.

The gull attacks occur off the waters of Argentina's Valdes Peninsula. The whales feed there amid six colonies of kelp gull totaling approximately 75,000 birds. The birds have increased in numbers over the last few decades thanks in part to large garbage dumps and the effluent from fish processing facilities.

The gulls like to gouge through the skin of the whales' backs to feed on skin and blubber and blood. This predation causes painful lesions on the whales and causes the whales to dive more often than normal in order to escape the birds. For whatever reason, the gulls focus on mother whales and their calves.

  • Click here to read WWF article on gull attacks

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