Gulls are assholes
November 26, 2014 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Whales Aren't Keen on Being Flayed Alive By Gulls by Ed Yong (National Geographic Phenomena). posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (35 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I reckon they learnt to do this after reading The Scar.
posted by dng at 4:21 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hitchcock was ahead of his time.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:24 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I never ever trust any grouping of birds not to swoop down on me and pick my carcass clean. It's always a very high likelihood that they will.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 4:45 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've lost a pasty, a sausage roll and a bacon sarnie to gulls, its no laughing matter.
posted by biffa at 5:07 PM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


Unless they're Laughing gulls.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:25 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's pretty cool to be able to watch adaptive behavior as it evolves.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:47 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Gulls will also flay humans alive in the parking lot of the Target on Lake Street.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:10 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's pretty cool to be able to watch adaptive behavior as it evolves.

Yeah, this is super cool. Does anyone know of other examples of this kind of behavior? Are they mostly due to humans doing our local "terraforming" or has any cropped up independently?
posted by JauntyFedora at 6:15 PM on November 26, 2014


I grew up in a fishing port on the Atlantic coast. Seagulls are awful. They are nasty scavengers and they have a pecking order that makes the movie 'Mean Girls' look like a remake of 'Gandhi'. But then again, the Mormons erected a monument to them. They claim that seagulls came and saved their crops from a plague of locusts. But that is nature. It is indifferent to our plight - may it be whales, locusts, seagulls or us.:
posted by McMillan's Other Wife at 6:20 PM on November 26, 2014


I wonder what the relative scale is between a seagull and a whale. I mean compared to a human and a flea or a mosquito or a bedbug.

The average Right whale weighs 120000 pounds and the average kelp gull weighs 2.1 pounds so the ratio is 57142.85 to 1.

The average mosquito weighs 2.5 milligrams, the average human weighs 6.2×10^7 mg and I don't know how to calculate the ratio. Or I once did and no longer do.

The average flea weighs 0.0008 kg.

A bedbug weighs 5 milligrams.


Minor math project anyone? Please hope.
posted by vapidave at 6:37 PM on November 26, 2014


6.2 x 10^7 is 62,000,000 so that divided by even 5 is still several orders of magnitude off. If we took our human to be twice as big as average (260 pounds, say, big but not ridiculously), then according to google a good analogue (by mass) would be a hummingbird, clocking in at 2.5 grams (ratio of 47173 to 1)

So weightwise a right whale vs. seagull is about the same ratio as a heavyweight boxer vs. hummingbird.
posted by Nomiconic at 7:19 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


So if you said mosquitos the size of hummingbirds it would be a good approximation. *shudders*
posted by furtive at 7:24 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


So weightwise a right whale vs. seagull is about the same ratio as a heavyweight boxer vs. hummingbird.

Boxers are not viciously pecked by hummingbirds every single time they try to take a breath.

Although, if they were, I might actually find boxing interesting.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:31 PM on November 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


Nature is horrible
posted by mrbigmuscles at 7:59 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seagulls Ripped My Flesh
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:18 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Seagulls are, absolutely, positively, one hundred percent the assholes of the animal kingdom. If they had opposable thumbs, we'd all be truly doomed.

On a slightly unrelated note, why on earth does Chrome not recognize "opposable" as a valid dictionary word!?
posted by surazal at 8:38 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


We were at state beach last summer and these folks were having a picnic and left a bag of sliced bread unwatched, a gull snagged it and flew off and landed in the water and tore it open and other gulls came and they fought over it and then flew away and shat on everyone's cars.
posted by vrakatar at 8:57 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


My mother was a bird lover. I have many, many memories of being sent to feed the birds. Most of them just involved trudging around the yard through deep winter snow, carrying milk jugs with the tops cut off and filled with several varieties of seed to fill the six feeders my parents had scattered throughout the yard, but one traumatic bird-feeding memory goes back much earlier..

When I was 5 my family took a trip around Lake Michigan in a mobile home my father had borrowed from a friend. My oldest siblings had stayed home to work their summer jobs but there were still six of us kids and two parents in the mobile home (which was way too many for one mobile home, but that's another part of the story..) Anyway.. when we reached the Straits of Mackinac we crossed the famous suspension bridge connecting Michigan's two peninsulas and then pulled off on the far side to have a picnic lunch at a park by the water's edge with a view of the strait. A picnic table was secured, the cooler was unpacked, an assembly line set up to make sandwiches, and in short order everyone had been fed, after which we started packing up, ready to get back on the road.

However, being one of the original "feed the birds" people, when my mother came across a box of crackers that was three quarters empty and contained mostly broken pieces, rather than repack it with the other food, or throw it away, she gave it to me, five years old, and issued me instructions to walk down to the nearby beach and throw the remaining crackers to the birds -- of course this seemed completely natural and normal because it's the sort of thing we were always being instructed to do.

So.. I toddled off down to the water's edge and began reaching my stubby little five-year-old hand into the box and grasping clumsy fistfuls of broken crackers and flinging them away. Almost instantly a few gulls were attracted. And as I continued to fling the contents of the box, handful by handful, more and more gulls arrived. And then I reached for another handful and came up with nothing but crumbs -- the box was empty. It was only at that point that my five-year-old brain registered the fact that I was surrounded by hundreds of hungry scavengers and since the other supply of food had run out, I was pretty much all that was left.

It was something of a surprise to the rest of the family when I hurtled, shrieking, back to the picnic area, pursued by three hundred seagulls.

In any case, believe me when I say that I can totally sympathize with those whales.
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:35 PM on November 26, 2014 [38 favorites]


Does anyone know of other examples of this kind of behavior?

In birds, yeah-- crows will use cars as nutcrackers, dropping too-difficult-to-get-into nuts in the road and waiting for cars to show up and run them over.
posted by NoraReed at 11:10 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's the blue tit, cream thief and "gateway drug" for the hard stuff.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:25 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh great, so half of all birds are assholes and the other half is probably garbage.

:(
posted by bigendian at 11:54 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


In 458 BC, he returned to Sicily for the last time, visiting the city of Gela where he died in 456 or 455 BC. Valerius Maximus wrote that he was killed outside the city by a tortoise dropped by an eagle which had mistook his head for a rock suitable for shattering the shell of the reptile.[17] Pliny, in his Naturalis Historiæ, adds that Aeschylus had been staying outdoors to avoid a prophecy that he would be killed by a falling object.
posted by vapidave at 12:21 AM on November 27, 2014 [19 favorites]


Vapidave, I love your comment.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:44 AM on November 27, 2014


An eagle? Or a lammergeier, which is an amazingly cool name for an ugly bird. (I only know about lammergeiers because of seeing some quote somewhere about Aeschylus's demise.)
posted by moonmilk at 3:28 AM on November 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


So is it true that you can toss Alka Seltzer tablets to gulls and, since they can't burp, they basically explode (not really explode, explode) in flight? After reading this article, I may have to start that as a new hobby in a symbolic act of retribution for my mammalian whale relatives.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 4:04 AM on November 27, 2014


Does anyone know of other examples of this kind of behavior?

Birds imitate each other's songs (and mobile phones, and car alarms), killer whales teach their young to beach themselves for tasty snacks, monkeys have learnt to wash food both in the wild and in labs, deer in Germany still avoid the east/west barrier, raccoons and foxes have adapted very well to new urban niches, dolphins have learnt to co-operate with fishermen, octopuses may have shown observational learning in the lab.

When one of my rabbits learnt that begging on your hind legs works, the others followed suit. Most species with a backbone have the capacity to learn and adapt. Except maybe cats.
posted by Leon at 4:48 AM on November 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


so it seems like the future is going to consist of:
cockroaches
seagulls
jellyfish
humans
maybe the smart whales who, after mastering the technique of hiding their whale flesh from the seagulls, go on a rampage and just burn this fucker down and start the great age of Whale
posted by angrycat at 5:38 AM on November 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Other animal examples of learning behavior: Hermit Crabs Line up in Size Order for new Shell. More fraught: why some mammals kill off infants and associated behaviors that have sprung up to defend against that including monogamy.
posted by amanda at 6:43 AM on November 27, 2014 [5 favorites]




Ptarmigans will peck to death anyone who mispronounces their name.
posted by Chitownfats at 9:01 AM on November 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ptarmigans will pteck to death ...

FTFY.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:53 AM on November 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Does anyone know of other examples of this kind of behavior?
The worst one that made the news recently was about Antarctic fur seals raping penguins and sometimes eating them afterwards (video may be disturbing) (paywalled article).
posted by elgilito at 9:54 AM on November 27, 2014


Hermit Crabs Line up in Size Order for new Shell.

OMG!!! That clip is fantastic!!!!
posted by Pendragon at 10:36 AM on November 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't forget crows, angrycat!
posted by Dr. Send at 9:52 PM on November 27, 2014


Hermit Crabs Line up in Size Order for new Shell.

Yeah, that is fantastic! Also, I learned that hermit crabs have ugly rears, and that must be why they are in such a hurry to get into their new shells.
posted by moonmilk at 12:09 AM on November 28, 2014


« Older Y'all just had to get one last shot in, didn't you...   |   Her fortress of shit makes sense Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments