Seagull imitation contest to restore reputation of the birds

Seagull imitation contest in Belgium to restore reputation of the birds
Seagull, photo: Canva

In an attempt to change the negative image of seagulls, the Belgian coastal town of De Panne hosted a seagull imitation contest on Sunday, attracting about 50 participants.

Jan Seys, head of communications at the Flanders Marine Institute and president of the seagull contest jury, expressed the hope of generating more sympathy for seagulls as they are an essential part of the coastal ecosystem.

“We all know that seagulls are often despised by the public. They don’t like them because their droppings fall all over, they open litter bins, they pick ice creams and sandwiches. And we thought, why not get more sympathy for those seagulls because they are part of the coast. There is no coast without seagulls,” Seys said.

“Why are they in our towns more and more? And why are they sometimes considered a threat or a nuisance? That’s because of us. Because there is so plenty of easy food now in towns that if you would be a gull and know that in a litter bin, you can open it with one small pecking movement of your bill and then you have a five-course meal, what would you do?” he added.

The contestants were judged on their ability to mimic the birds’ screeches and movements. “15 out of 20 points go to the call, how well they mimic the call of a seagull. Five points go to the posture, the behaviour of the participant,” Seys said.

Yarmo, a 21-year-old architecture student from the Netherlands, won the contest with his convincing imitation: “Happy. A bit overwhelmed still, but very happy to win here.”

“I study theatre, and for a school job, we had to look for an animal, and I just got fascinated by the seagull. So I started practising,” Maren, who won second place, said.

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