Seagull Snatches Shark!

I was thrilled to get an action shot of a gull fishing(not a seagull- there's no such bird). I was especially happy to have captured a Great Black-Backed Gull (by far the biggest gulls in the world) in such a dramatic moment. I didn't even notice he had snatched up a SHARK until later!

There is no mistake. It is definitely a shark. I didn't know there were sharks around here, but we do. Evidently they are Sand Sharks, which are not dangerous or very large.

Great Black-Backed Gulls are HUGE. They are 2 1/2 feet tall and have a 5 1/2 foot wingspan! According to Whatbird, they are "Pugnacious, predatory and opportunistic. Omnivorous. May take prey as large as other gulls, cormorants, and rabbits," and "can swallow a puffin or a small wild duck whole."

I never cared about gulls before, but a gull that can catch and swallow a shark caught my attention! How could you not be fascinated with a bird that can swallow a whole duck? These guys are near the top of the food chain - the only bird that will prey on a Great Black Backed Gull is an eagle!

They are fascinating birds, too. They don't reach full maturity for the first four years of their lives. Like the American Eagle, the juvenile birds look very different from the adults. The distinctive black and white plumage is only seen on mature birds. Younger birds are speckled and have a dark bill. Adult Great Black-Backed Gulls have yellow bill with a red spot on the lower mandible. (The more common and familiar Herring Gulls also have a red spot on the lower bill, but Herring Gulls are smaller and have grey wings with black tips.)

Even in flight, the adult Great Black-Backed Gull is easily distinguished from other gulls in this area. The contrasting black and bright white colors are impressive and attractive. And they eat sharks! How cool is that!


  1. great series - and such good luck with the shark - wish there was a way we could plan such pictures

  2. Wonderful capture...whew..those guys definitively eat anything!

  3. Nice information. I have seen loads of sand sharks in the Newport area in California and no gull there is large enough to catch one. I would love to see a gull that swallows ducks!

  4. Wow- these are amazing pictures Sue! How lucky you were there to capture this. I've never heard of such a thing.

    Happy Birding :)


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