Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Whale-Eating Seagulls To Be Shot By Police in Argentina

Flesh-eating seagulls that attack southern right whales off the coast of Argentina are to be shot by police in patrol boats.

The birds have developed a habit of attacking the endangered mammals in one of their prime breeding grounds.

Seagulls off the coast of the Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn have discovered that by pecking at the whales as they come up for air they can create open wounds.

Each time the whales then surface gulls swoop down and cut away skin and blubber with their beaks and claws.

Aside from the environmental issues, experts also fear it could hit tourist numbers with whale-watching changing from a magical experience to something from a horror movie.

Whales are also changing their behaviour in response to the attacks.

Instead of breaching the water and dramatically displaying their tails, they rise just barely enough to breathe through their blow-holes before descending to safety.

"It's not just that the gulls are attacking the whales, but that they're feeding from them, and this way of feeding is a habit that is growing and becoming more frequent," said Marcelo Bertellotti of the National Patagonia Centre.

"It really worries us because the damage they're doing to the whales is multiplying, especially to infant whales that are born in these waters." Read More