As you travel the sea coast of B.C. , whether by ferry, cruise ship or private boat, you become aware that sea birds are a large and important factor in the ecology of the Pacific Coast. The sea bird that is probably the most familiar is the sea gull. There are more than fifty types of gulls world wide which are commonly referred to as “sea gulls”.
It is estimated that nearly six million individuals from fifteen species of sea birds breed off the B.C. Coast each year. Of these there might be more than six different types of gulls all of which in this blog are going to be referred to simply as “sea gulls”. Sea gulls have a varied diet. They eat fish, but also eat insects , food they steal from other birds and of course garbage. Sea gulls have flocked in ever increasing numbers to landfills. This increase in food supply is a major factor in the increase in the sea gull population.
Sea gulls can be a menace to sports fisherpersons, particularly those fishing for salmon by herring strip casting. Most experienced casters have on occasion hooked a sea gull , necessitating the cutting of varying lengths of fishing line. The hooked seagulls appear to have little problem in removing the hook.
These are the general run of sea gulls , but there are special members of the species. We would like to introduce you to two of them. Meet Sam Sea Gull. Sam hangs out near a small coastal community that caters to tourists and is serviced by a small grocery store. Sam gets inside the store looking for his favourite brand of potato chips. Sam does not fly through an open door. He walks right in beside a human customer and marches right over to the rack of potato chips and makes his selection. He then returns to the door and waits for someone to let him out. Sam became quite a tourist attraction but the store owner was losing money as Sam didn’t pay. Some of the tourists began to pay for Sam’s potato chips. This procedure continued till the end of tourist season when reluctantly Sam had to switch his diet from potato chips back to herring.
Another celebrity sea gull is Sally ‘ the cat “ Seagull. Sally also began life in a coastal community. She had an unfortunate accident while an immature gull. While walking on a roof ,without due care, Sally fell down a chimney landing in the fireplace at the bottom. Fortunately nothing was burning in the fireplace but she was covered in ashes and injured one wing. The occupiers of the house were surprised but sympathetic. They cleaned her up and could see she would not be able to fly. Sally became hungry and spied a dish of cat food where Henry and Maude, the family cats were eating. Sally walked over and joined them and no one objected. This went on until Sally’s wing was better and she could return to flight. This is not the end of the story. Twice a day Sally would tap on the kitchen window . She would be let in and she would strut to the cat dish. It is rumoured that sometimes she brought herring for Henry and Maude
You can see that sea gulls do more than fly around and make a lot of noise. The next time you see a sea gull flying above you –wave. It might be Sam or Sally.