Kingdom: Animals (Animalia)
Category: Birds (Aves)
Species: Larus audouinii
How will you recognize him?
The Aegean gull is a medium-sized gull, which usually does not exceed 50 cm. It has a white body and gray wings that end in black edges. He has dark legs, while it is capable and flexible in its flights. Its characteristic feature, however, is its red beak, which has a vertical dark line and ends at a yellow tip (Portolou D.).
A few things about his life
The Aegean gull feeds mainly on small pelagic fish, such as herring, sardines and anchovies, which it usually hunts at night, and it can also be found near fishing boats, as fishing leftovers are a delicacy of its diet (Mañosa et al., 2004). However, it has been repeatedly observed in coastal areas, which it approaches to find food such as marine and terrestrial invertebrates, crabs or even smaller birds or plant matter. Most species of gulls, like the Aegean gull, also feed on food scraps people leave behind and the shores, maximizing the risk of swallowing litter (mainly plastic) or transporting it to their nest. Like most seabirds, they are usually active near their nests, which they create in isolated rocky locations and near the coastal zone, usually at a height not exceeding 50 meters above sea level (Cramp & Simmons, 1983).
Migratory Route and Behavior
Aegean gulls reproduce by creating colonies from 10 to 10,000 pairs, in a fairly sparse arrangement (del Hoyo et al., 1996). The nests they create are pits in stones and vegetation, which they cover with available material such as algae (Cramp & Simmons, 1983). Many times, due to wrong choices, waste such as plastic bags, bottles and nets that may be scattered around the nesting areas are transported to the nests.
The Aegean gull is a partially migratory bird, which after reproduction is scattered in various parts of the Mediterranean. The first migratory wave begins in July, peaks in August and ends in October, where birds travel through North Gibraltar to the North African coast to spend the winter (del Hoyo et al., 1996), and can be found in the south and east. Mediterranean coast (Portolou D.). From February to April, the return to the breeding grounds.
Its life is equally precious
The Aegean gull is a species that needs protection, with the main threats being anthropogenic activity in the breeding areas, the pollution of its habitats and the fragmentation of its food sources. A physical disorder of the population may be due to its competition with the Herring Gull for space and food (Portolou D.). The effects of harmful human activities on the populations of the Aegean, however, outweigh the natural competition between species.
It is therefore of primary importance to show respect for the natural species and the living beings that make them up. Wildlife, including the Aegean gull, must be active without being disturbed by human activities. The nests and eggs should not be disturbed, as they are very sensitive.
Still, measures must be taken to reduce overfishing, as this phenomenon not only affects these species, but upsets the balance of all marine food relations. All living organisms are part of the food chain. Even the most seemingly insignificant organism is vital to someone else. This balance between food relationships is upset by overfishing, as evidently many fish stock collapse. Indicatively in Torre Guaceto (Italy), overfishing reduced, among others, the population of sea urchins (Diplodus sargus), which were the main predators of urchins. As a result of the overfishing of sea urchins, the sea urchins, being grazers, destroyed large areas of algae. With the declaration of the area as a Marine Protected Area, the dominant grazers (sea urchins) decreased, due to the increase in the population of their predators (sea urchins), restoring algae meadows to balance.
Finally, it is necessary to avoid environmental pollution, as all pollutants sooner or later end up in the aquatic environment. Marine pollution is the biggest scourge of marine biodiversity. Once the waste reaches the marine environment, an endless exchange of harmful substances between the organisms begins. Through bioaccumulation, chemicals that are not eliminated by metabolic functions from the body, accumulate in it. Then, through the phenomenon of biomagnification, these chemicals that have been collected by an organism consumed by its predator, are transferred to the larger food classes and remain there, causing significant malfunctions in the organisms or even death. There are countless examples of destructive effects due to bioaccumulation of toxic substances in predatory predators, to which humans also belong. For example, the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) became extremely rare in the United States between 1960 and 1970. The cause was the bioaccumulation of DDT and other similar toxic substances in the bird tissues. The high amounts of chlorinated hydrocarbons caused reproductive dysfunction and more specifically the reduction of calcium in the egg shells, resulting in breakage before healthy hatching. The source of these toxic substances was their food, as high concentrations were observed in other marine organisms, near the area of activity of the bird, from filter-eating organisms, such as crabs to predatory predators, such as sea lions (Voultsiadou, 2015).
Efstathios Loupas (professor of Environmental Education).
Writing and Editing Greek Texts: Agni Vlachaki (researcher)
Translation and Editing of English Texts: Marianna Chalkia Loupa
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