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East Coast Whale Trail opened

30/09/2016

Whales and visitors to the East Coast will get closer together with a series of new whale viewing sites created between larapuna/Bay of Fires and the Tasman Peninsula.More

Upgraded helipads improve safety for the Overland Track

29/09/2016

The Tasmanian Air Rescue Trust has provided funding to enable the upgrading of helipads on the Overland Track, improving the ability of rescue teams to reach walkers and staff in case of emergency.More

Experience national parks through art

23/09/2016

Arts in Parks is a project that celebrates the two decade long partnership between the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service and Arts Tasmania to deliver the wilderness residency program for artists.More

Kelp Gull, Larus dominicanus

Kelp Gull
Photo by Peter Grant

Description

The Kelp Gull is the second largest of Australia's gulls (550-580 mm). Adults have a white head, neck, underbody, rump and tail. The upperparts and wing are black with a white leading edge. The yellow bill has a red spot on the lower tip.

Fledglings are grey-brown with paler mottling on the neck and breast and have a black bill but they soon develop a pale base to the bill and largely white head and underparts as they mature. They take three or four years to reach maturity.

Kelp Gulls are smaller than the Pacific Gull, Larus pacificus, and have a less massive bill.

Habitat

The Kelp Gull occurs in coastal bays, beaches, inlets and estuaries and on off-shore islands. They are often seen scavenging at refuse tips

Diet

Kelp Gulls are opportunistic omnivores and will scavenge as well as prey on molluscs, fish, crustaceans, other seabirds, and even their own chicks and eggs.

The Kelp Gull habitually drops molluscs from the air onto rocks to smash them open.

Breeding

Kelp gulls nest on beaches, among rocks, grassy headlands, ledges and offshore islands. The nest is a bowl of grasses and plants stems or a shallow scrape in sand lined with seaweed, shells and debris. The female usually lays 2 or 3 eggs. Both parents feed the young birds. Chicks peck at red spot on the parent's beak to stimulate the regurgitation reflex.

Call

A melancholy "yo-yo-yo-yo-yo" which is unlike the call of any other Tasmanian gull and will sound familiar as part of the soundscape of films and movies set on coastlines.

Distribution

Distribution Map courtesy Natural Values Atlas, data from theLIST
© 2010 State of Tasmania
The Kelp Gull occurs on coasts and islands through much of the southern hemisphere from New Zealand and most sub-Antarctic islands, the Antarctic Peninsula, South America, and Africa.

The Kelp Gull first become established in Australia in the 1940s. Their numbers increased rapidly and they are now found in many parts of the south-east and south-west coasts of mainland Australia.

They are common in south-east and eastern Tasmania.