Subject: Gulls and Whales:Argentines say rubbish-fed sea (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Sun, 14 Sep 1997 20:33:22 -0400 (EDT)

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Date: Sat, 13 Sep 97 14:14:00 GMT 
Subject: Argentines say rubbish-fed sea

Argentines say rubbish-fed seagulls attack whales

    BUENOS AIRES (Reuter) - Giant seagulls, swollen beyond their
normal size by a diet of rubbish in southern Argentina, have
taken to swooping down on top of whales and pecking pieces of
their flesh, a whale-watching group said Thursday.
     The whales of the Peninsula Valdes "are being savagely
attacked by seagulls, which cause wounds in the animals' skin up
to seven centimeters (three inches) deep," whale-watcher Carlos
Bottazzi told the state-run Telam news agency.
     "The whales feel such intense pain that they twist around
to try to escape from the birds and swim underwater," Bottazzi,
of the "Green Fleet" of whale-watching boats, said.
     The seagulls' behavior has changed due to years on a diet of
rubbish and fish dumped by local fleets, which has allowed them
to grow bigger than ever before.
     "That diet has made the seagulls astonishingly big and
heavy. And if you add that to the bird's quick wits and
strength, you have a dangerous customer," Bottazzi said.
     He said the seagulls also attack whale calves.
     Pensinsula Valdes is a world-famous spot for observing Right
whales, which swim close to shore to give birth to their calves.
Tourists who come from around the world to visit the whales on
boat trips have included Britain's Princess Diana.