Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Of Gulls and Carp

On Sunday, I decided to check up on the carp and herring gull. The herring gull was still there, and mostly unchanged, but the carp...

July Carp III

There was a pair of juvenile herring gulls picking away at it! Upon closer inspection, it was really quite amazing to see how much they'd eaten:

July Carp IV

As a side note, I returned again, yesterday, and the carp was simply a skeleton. To me, it is especially profound that the gulls who reduced this carp to bones were the same species of gull as the one that washed up, dead, only twenty or so feet away. Everything in the ecosystem is interconnected; the insects currently squirming inside the herring gull might be eaten by a fish, and that fish might wash ashore, dead, and be consumed by herring gulls. It's amazing how the lives and deaths of organisms are intertwined and how they become a part of one another.

Also found on the beach was the rather complete skeleton of a ring-billed gull. Compared to the herring gull, it was very small. Sometimes, it's tough to distinguish between herring and ring-billed gulls, especially when they're moving about, but when comparing their skulls, it becomes quite clear which gull is which.

August Gull II

This gull had washed ashore Saturday night. It's amazing just how many dead gulls can be found on the beaches in Marquette -- especially at Presque Isle Park and Picnic Rocks. Many of the individuals I've found have been juveniles, which makes me wonder what their mortality rate is. Of course, as Steph reminds me, gulls are far easier to spot than smaller birds, so their deaths are obviously much more visible.

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