Saturday, 1 September 2012


Right whales (Eubalaena australis) off the coast of Argentina face the gruesome threat of being slowly eaten alive by birds every time they take a breath. The menace has become so great that local officials are planning to declare open season on the gulls and allow hunters to knock problem birds out of the sky, reported the AP.
The macabre torment of the whales sounds like a punishment from vengeful gods in a Greek myth or the plot of a Edgar Allan Poe story, but the real reason gulls have turned on the whales may be a bunch of garbage. Open air trash heaps near coastal cities have fueled a massive population boom in gulls. Fishermen add to the problem when they throw fish parts back into the ocean.
About eight years ago, the burgeoning gull population around the city of Puerto Madryn learned that they can get fresh meat from the whales. As more gulls learned the trick, the problems for whales increased. The gulls wait until a whale surfaces for air, then tear holes in the whales’ flesh and rip off pieces of skin and blubber. Each time the whales come back up, the gulls go in for more.
“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,” Marcelo Bertellotti, of the National Patagonia Center, a government-sponsored conservation agency, told the AP.

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