Everyone knows seagulls can be very annoying with their squawking, and mildly aggressive behavior towards beach goers with loose food. But, that’s child’s play compared to the latest report from scientists in Argentina.

From PLOS ONE: “At least 626 southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) calves died at the Península Valdés calving ground, Argentina, between 2003 and 2014. Intense gull harassment may have contributed to these deaths. In the 1970s, Kelp Gulls (Larus dominicanus) began feeding on skin and blubber pecked from the backs of living right whales at Valdés. The frequency of gull attacks has increased dramatically over the last three decades and mother-calf pairs are the primary targets. Pairs attacked by gulls spend less time nursing, resting and playing than pairs not under attack. In successive attacks, gulls open new lesions on the whales’ backs or enlarge preexisting ones. Increased wounding could potentially lead to dehydration, impaired thermoregulation, and energy loss to wound healing. ”


Sizes are shown on the backs of two living (left and middle) and a dead calf (right) photographed at Península Valdés. Each size is indicated by its abbreviation. Abbreviations: Extra-small (XS), Small (S), Medium (M), Large (L), Extra-large (XL) and Triple XL (XXXL). Photo credit John Atkinson and SRWHMP.

To view the entire report, documentation, and photos from the scientific study visit PLOS ONE.

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