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Aegean herring gulls are near extinction

13 August 2011 / 19:08:06  GRReporter
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Fewer herring gullss nest in the Greek islands and fly over the Aegean Sea. The population of Aegean herring gulls, the bird which is the symbol of the archipelago have registered a disturbing decrease over the last decade. According to the last census in 2010 made by the Ornithological Society, the Greek population is estimated at 350-500 couples, while at the time of the previous census in 1999 there were 700 to 900 couples of herring gulls registered.

Therefore, the Greek Ornithological Society is implementing the program LIFE, aimed at the fight against the most significant threats to gulls, improving breeding in the largest colonies of the birds and thus the preservation of their species.

Human activities such as farming, overgrazing, tourism, hunting and fishing, may have a negative impact on the success of gulls breeding. At the same time, a threat to seabirds is also the reduction of food because of overfishing and the pollution of the sea, but also the rats that eat their eggs and the newly hatched young birds.


Also, Aegean herring gulls have a big competitor in terms of finding food and nesting site - gulls, the population of which has increased significantly, as it  reaches nearly 200,000 couples. The main difference between the two species of herring gulls is the color of their beak.

Aegean herring gulls has a red beak and the Seagull - yellow. Furthermore, gulls fly over dumps as well, they live even in cities and eat the waste, unlike the Aegean herring gulls, which avoids the interior of the country and eats only fish.

The program LIFE

Activities carried out

The program LIFE is implemented in 17 areas for special protection (The Delta of the rivers Mesta, Amorgos, Limnos, etc.) where the largest populations of the Aegean herring gulls in are the country located. The Hellenic Ornithological Society has made an assessment of the groups of islands, where the rats cause the greatest damage and has already proceeded to the removal of the rodents. It also aims at implementing different methods to control populations of gulls, and studies the magnitude of the problem of accidental falling of the sea birds in appliances and gears for fishing.

The activity of the Greek Ornithological Society also includes placing GPS transmitters to adult herring gullss, in order to localize key regions in which birds find food and also bands to the newly hatched birds that are likely to give information about their movement and behavior.


Tags: Aegean herring gull extinction Greek Ornithological Society LIFE program
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