Seagulls, the bane of the Jersey Shore: Getting fatter and more aggressive?
I despite seagulls. They are vile and menacing. Stalker of snacks, expert dive bombers, and prolific poopers.
Sure, seagulls soaring over the sea look mighty majestic. And their squawking provides the soundtrack to any good Jersey Shore beach day. Plus, they are amazingly adaptive creatures, able to survive and thrive in both challenging marine and inland environments. And of course, every animal on the planet is part of the great "circle of life". (Except mosquitoes. Blood-sucking disease-carriers.)
I learned that New Jersey is actually home to three species of gulls during the summertime, according to SaveCoastalWildlife.org:
—American herring gull (Larus argentatus)
—Great black-backed gull (Larus marinus)
—Laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
My opinion of seagulls advanced from "annoyance" to "hatred" a few years ago. My family was munching on a late breakfast on the bayside beach in Ship Bottom. When suddenly, a white feathered monster swooped out of the sky and stole the donut right out of my hand. Before I even realized what had happened, the seagull was already enjoying his prize perched on top of a building across the street.
Thief. What a jerk.
I feel like over the past months and years, seagulls at the Jersey Shore have gotten bolder and braver and more aggressive.
Additionally, my wife and I noticed this weekend that seagulls seem to have gotten a lot bigger too. Fatter. According to Wikipedia, a gull's natural diet is highly versatile, consisting primarily of fish, insects, and even plants. But Jersey seagulls seem to be eating very well, stalking human beachgoers for leftovers and crumbs.
We even saw a flock of gulls swarming an unsecured dumpster. Those birds looked to be of a very healthy size, to say the least.
(By the way, if you're one of the poor, misinformed folks deliberately feeding the gulls? That is a cardinal sin. And you deserve to be banished from the beaches until you learn the error of your ways. Or at least until you face punishment of being swarmed and pecked by a dozen seagulls. That'll teach you.)
Maybe my negative opinion of our seaside seagull friends is completely off-base. Maybe they are truly noble creatures, deserving of our respect and admiration. Maybe they have always been exceedingly fat and aggressive.
Or maybe those flying white rodents won't stop until every last seaside donut is devoured.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. He loves everything about the Jersey Shore except seagulls. Follow Dan on Facebook or Twitter for your latest weather forecast updates.