Dying Seagull Phenomenon: what we know so far

Dying Seagull Phenomenon: what we know so far

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Seagulls recovering at Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust in Ohariu.

Credit, Source: /Beverley Dowling

Beverly Dowling, part of the bird rescue team helping Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust posted videos & photos of Seagulls in Incubators on HUHA’s Facebook post.

“We’ve just rescued 20 Birds. Seventeen survived on the trip to the Wellington Bird Rescue trust …..”


The Seagulls are taken from Kuku beach in hopes of getting a result back through post-mortem testing. Due to the demand from the public, they want to know answers. Beverley got in contact with one of our agents to discuss her story and answer questions about the current situation.

Seagull recovered inside a cage.
Credit, Source: /Beverley Dowling
Credit, Source: /Sam Hudson

Many people of the public are spreading conspiracies about the Seagulls accusing anyone or anything for the dying mysteriously when it could be anything from a natural cause that can include disease. Still, until results come back, then the full answer can be announced.

Beverley Dowling suggested in an interview to remain vigilant if anyone does see any suspicious activity regarding the Seagulls ‘dropping from the sky’ on Horowhenua, Waitarere, Kuku, and Kapiti Coast beaches. The main area where the cause has started was Kuku beach.

The Local councils are not doing enough to warn the public about what is happening at the beaches, mainly to tell the public to keep their dogs on a leash and do not approach the birds.

Credit, Source: /Beverley Dowling

Beverley Dowling was called for an interview, here are a few quotes:

“I know that birds went away for toxicology, pretty much on the same day that all this had happened. It takes a good two weeks to be able to get that information. In the meantime, we have to be on the edge of care until the results come through.”

“The results will only tell us ‘the what it is that has caused these birds to drop out of the sky paralyzed, but it will not tell us the who.’ It was horrific & we’re not talking 10 – 20 Seagulls; we’re talking in the hundreds.”

“What upset me the most was initially on the first day we were not allowed to take them off the beach.”

Beverley explains later in the interview that she does understand taking the birds to rescue without permission from official sources e.g., DOC (Department of Conservation) can be harmful because the birds may have severe conditioned disease and wipe it out.

“You could be taking a severe conditioned disease and wipe it out. I understand that, but if that’s the concern, then why were people not allowed to euthanize the gulls rather than letting them hang there.”

Beverley said that DOC stated it was SPCA’s responsibility. Beverley believes that the authorities responding to this is just letting them die and not even help them/euthanize them.

“Nobody was doing it, taking the care to protect people’s pets,” said Beverley Dowling.


What we know so far:

  • Dogs/animals should not be near the birds at any cost. Keep them on a leash and preferably take your pet to an animal park.
  • Remain vigilant if you do see any suspicious activity regarding the Seagulls ‘dropping from the sky.’
  • Report any Seagulls that have recently dropped to the ground to Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust or Beverley Dowling.
  • Not everyone is aware of this Phenomenon happening. Spread awareness.
  • Local councils are not warning the public enough or even at all. There are tiny bits of information from official sources.
  • The test results are not completed as of 15th March; do not assume things or spread false assumptions.

If you want to help support the teams helping the Seagulls; as they’re completely unfunded, you can donate cans of fish also to the appropriate organizations involved. Click Here if the above ‘donate’ button does not work. Alternatively, you can follow the Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust Facebook page:

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