Back to list

Pacific gull

Larus pacificus

Photo: Pacific gull
State of endangerment
Animal description
The Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus) is a large and robust seabird native to the southern coasts of Australia, including Tasmania. This species stands out due to its considerable size, measuring up to 58-66 cm in length, with a wingspan that can reach up to 1.5 meters. It is the largest gull found in Australia, easily distinguished from other gulls by its size, powerful build, and distinctive coloration.

Adult Pacific Gulls are characterized by their deep black backs and wings, which contrast sharply with their white underparts. The tips of their wings are white, creating a striking visual effect during flight. Their tails are also white, edged with a black band. One of the most notable features of the Pacific Gull is its large, powerful bill, which is bright yellow with a red spot on the lower mandible. This spot is thought to play a role in feeding behavior, possibly aiding in the stimulation of feeding responses from chicks. Their legs are a strong yellow, adding to their colorful appearance.

Juvenile Pacific Gulls are markedly different in appearance from the adults, sporting a mottled brown and white plumage that gradually transitions to the adult coloration over the course of three to four years. This extended maturation period is typical of many large gull species.

The Pacific Gull is predominantly a coastal bird, rarely venturing far from shore. Its diet is varied and opportunistic, including fish, crustaceans, small birds, and even the eggs of other birds. They are known to drop shellfish from a height onto rocks in order to break them open and access the flesh inside, showcasing their adaptability and intelligence in foraging techniques.

Breeding occurs mainly in small colonies or in solitary pairs on offshore islands, where nests are constructed on the ground. These nests are typically made of seaweed, grass, and other plant materials, forming a sturdy platform for the eggs. The female usually lays 2 to 3 eggs, which both parents then incubate and care for.

Despite their large size and imposing presence, Pacific Gulls are not immune to threats. Human activities, such as pollution and habitat destruction, pose challenges to their populations. However, they are currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that they are not at immediate risk of significant decline.

In summary, the Pacific Gull is a majestic and powerful seabird, embodying the rugged beauty of Australia's coastal regions. Its striking appearance, fascinating behaviors, and the role it plays in the coastal ecosystem make it a remarkable subject of study and admiration for bird enthusiasts and conservationists alike.
New photos of animals