Kelp Gull - Oceana


Kelp Gull

Larus Dominicanus


Tropical to polar latitudes of the southern hemisphere


Nest on rocky shores; feed in coastal waters

Feeding Habits

Foraging omnivore


Order Charadriiformes (gulls, auks, and relatives), Family Laridae (gulls)


Like many seagulls, the kelp gull eats a variety of prey and will both hunt and scavenge for suitable food. They forage for many species of living, coastal invertebrates and for human garbage. They occasionally take larger animals, like fishes and coastal reptiles or mammals. Individuals often also steal food from other predators. Kelp gulls will eat just about anything and are even known to parasitize some large marine mammals by biting off pieces of skin and blubber. In some cases, this repeated activity causes large wounds. Kelp gulls have few natural predators but are likely taken by large, coastal sharks when floating on the sea surface.

Like all seabirds, kelp gulls nest on land. They reproduce via internal fertilization, and the females lay fertilized eggs, in nests built directly on the ground. Nesting sites often occur along rocky shores but may also be farther upland. Both males and females incubate the eggs and care for the chicks.

The kelp gull is a common species throughout its range and is a species of least conservation concern. In fact, in many areas, populations are increasing, a likely result of human-caused degradation of coastal ecosystems. Kelp gulls are so successful in human ecosystems that they often increase in numbers with human disturbance (like construction and landfill operations).

Engage Youth with Sailors for the Sea

Oceana joined forces with Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization dedicated to educating and engaging the world’s boating community. Sailors for the Sea developed the KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) program to create the next generation of ocean stewards. Click here or below to download hands-on marine science activities for kids.

Kids Environmental Lesson Plans

Additional Resources:

IUCN Red List