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The Pacific gull (''Larus pacificus'') is a very large
gull Gulls, or colloquially seagulls, are seabirds of the family Laridae in the suborder Lari. They are most closely related to the terns (family Sternidae) and only distantly related to auks, Skimmer (bird), skimmers and even more distantly to wade ...

gull
, native to the coasts of
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
. It is moderately common between Carnarvon in the west, and
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug The Darug or Dharug people are an Aboriginal Australian people, who share strong ties of kinship and, in Colonial Australia, pre-colonial times, survived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered througho ...

Sydney
in the east, although it has become scarce in some parts of the south-east, as a result of competition from the
kelp gull The kelp gull (''Larus dominicanus''), also known as the Dominican gull, is a gull that breeds on coasts and islands through much of the Southern Hemisphere. The nominate ''L. d. dominicanus'' is the subspecies In Taxonomy (biology), bi ...

kelp gull
, which has "self-introduced" since the 1940s. Much larger than the ubiquitous
silver gull The silver gull (''Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae'') is the most common gull of Australia. It has been found throughout the continent, but particularly at or near coastal areas. It is smaller than the Pacific gull (''Larus pacificus''), which ...

silver gull
, and nowhere near as common, Pacific gulls are usually seen alone or in pairs, loafing around the shoreline, steadily patrolling high above the edge of the water, or (sometimes) zooming high on the breeze to drop a
shellfish Shellfish is a colloquial and fisheries Fishery is the enterprise of raising or harvesting fish and other aquatic life. Commercial fisheries include wild fisheries and Fish farming, fish farms, both in fresh water (about 10% of all catch) and t ...

shellfish
or
sea urchin Sea urchins () are spine (zoology), spiny, globular echinoderms in the class Echinoidea. About 950 species of sea urchin live on the seabed of every ocean and inhabit every depth zone — from the intertidal seashore down to . The spherical, ha ...

sea urchin
onto rocks.


Diet

The gulls' diet consists of a number various fish species and invertebrates. They frequently consume crabs, most often the species ''
Ovalipes australiensis ''Ovalipes australiensis'' is a species of crab found in southern Australia. Its Range (biology), range extends from Western Australia to Queensland, including Tasmania. It is fished commercially and recreationally, although it is not as importan ...
'' and '' Paragrapsus gaimardii.'' They also commonly eat ''
Platycephalus bassensis ''Platycephalus'' is a genus of mostly marine fish, marine, bottom-dwelling fish in the family (biology), family Platycephalidae. It is particularly diverse in the Australian region where 16 of the 19 ''Platycephalus'' species are present. Etymol ...

Platycephalus bassensis
'' (sand flatheads) and cephalapods, both of which are sourced from their regular consumption of waste from fish which have been cleaned on wharves and beaches. Additionally, they may eat insects, eggs, and other seabirds. The gulls may be found scavenging abattoirs and in rubbish tips, where they will often steal food from other birds.


Taxonomy

The Pacific gull was first described by English ornithologist John Latham in 1801 from a
Thomas Watling Thomas Watling (19 September 1762 - 1814?), was an early Australian painter and illustrator, notable for his natural history drawings and landscapes. Early life and education Born in Dumfries, Scotland, he was raised by his maiden aunt, Marion ...
drawing, where the local name had been recorded as ''Troo-gad-dill''. Its specific epithet refers to the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. ...

Pacific Ocean
. Two
subspecies In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interacti ...
are recognised: the nominate race ''L. p. pacificus'' from the south-east coast and
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atol ...
, and ''L. p. georgii'' from
South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest of Austral ...

South Australia
and
Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Western Australia
.


Description

Pacific gulls are the only large gulls in their range, besides the occasional kelp gull. This species can range in length from and span across the wings.Harrison, Peter, ''Seabirds: An Identification Guide''. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1991), They typically weigh from . This species is mostly white, with dark wings and back, and a very thick (when compared to other gull species), powerful, red-tipped yellow bill. They have salt glands that secrete salty water through the nostrils. Young birds are mottled-brown all over, and attain their adult plumage only gradually; by its fourth year, a young Pacific gull has usually become difficult to tell apart from an adult bird. Of the two
subspecies In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interacti ...
, the nominate eastern race prefers sheltered beaches, and the western race ''L. p. georgii'' is commonly found even on exposed shores. Both subspecies nest in pairs or loose colonies on offshore islands, making a cup of grasses and sticks in an exposed position, and laying two or three mottled brown eggs.


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:gull, Pacific
Pacific gull The Pacific gull (''Larus pacificus'') is a very large gull Gulls, or colloquially seagulls, are seabirds of the family Laridae in the suborder Lari. They are most closely related to the terns (family Sternidae) and only distantly relate ...
Birds of South Australia Birds of Tasmania Birds of Victoria (Australia) Birds of Western Australia
Pacific gull The Pacific gull (''Larus pacificus'') is a very large gull Gulls, or colloquially seagulls, are seabirds of the family Laridae in the suborder Lari. They are most closely related to the terns (family Sternidae) and only distantly relate ...
Pacific gull The Pacific gull (''Larus pacificus'') is a very large gull Gulls, or colloquially seagulls, are seabirds of the family Laridae in the suborder Lari. They are most closely related to the terns (family Sternidae) and only distantly relate ...