Southern Right Whales Attacked By…Seagulls?

By December 9, 2012Ocean News

Do you think these seagulls are eating fish? Guess again, they’re eating the whale!

Imagine going out on a whale watching tour in the waters off Argentina to witness the Southern Right whale with it’s calf, a rare sight not many people get to see as these whales are endangered with populations around 3 to 4,000. Now imagine, instead of seeing the magnificent tail showing, breaching, or rolling, that you get a small glimpse of the whales blowhole and witness a seagull swooping down, trying to make a chunk of the whale it’s dinner!!! This seagull behavior has slowly been increasing for the past 8 years off the waters of Argentina, and authorities and environmentalists alike are calling for a stop to it!

This is where the story gets interesting as the authorities of the Chubut province (in Argentina) want to shoot the seagulls and the environmentalists want to control the open air garbage situation and dumping of unwanted fish parts into the ocean. Most environmentalists seem to cringe at the thought of harming any animal, whether it is a pest or not. Most scientists understand that sometimes it is necessary to control populations through the hunting or fishing of a species. The authorities have won in this case and will be implementing a pilot program to test out if shooting the seagulls will help to deter future gulls from attacking the whales.

Before you judge this decision, take into account the authorities will be taking special precautions when shooting the seagulls. They will only be targeting the gulls that attack southern right whales and immediately collecting the birds, reducing the chance of attracting more birds and preventing the ammunition from entering into the food chain. Chubut’s environmental minister, Eduardo Maza commented, “[Shooting the gulls] is surely not the most pleasant measure, but it’s necessary to do something to control a situation that has been growing after many years of inaction.”

Landfills are like fast food for birds, but like fast food, it isn’t good for them.

Additionally, the government will be working towards reducing the amount of open air garbage, recycling all that can be and properly disposing that which cannot be recycled. This will hopefully lessen the amount of open air garbage, and so the seagull population. With less food, there will hopefully be less gulls that can survive.

I wonder…with the current gull population, wouldn’t taking away one of their main food sources (trash) just increase the attacks on whales if nothing else were to be done, such as shooting the gulls?

This story brings to light an important message, despite your position on seagull shooting. Had the Chubut province been properly disposing of it’s wastes in the first place, the gull population may not have exploded and sought out a wider range of food sources.

Think about your actions and how even the smallest thing can effect the environment. The next time you go to throw away something, think about the whales, and hold onto that item until you can properly dispose of it. The next time you think that recycling in your house is a waste of time, think about the birds that pick through the garbage and end up ingesting your plastic waste.

The next time you think composting is a waste, think about the animals that will make a garbage dump their main food source because you threw out something edible for them.

The next time you head to a grocery store, remember those re-useable bags.

The next time you go to buy a case of water bottles, buy a water purifier and re-useable water bottles instead.

These are small steps every person can take in order to reduce the amount of waste generated every single day. If every person lived this way, problems like seagulls attacking endangered species for a meal may not exist, and decisions to shoot an overpopulated species may not have to be made.

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