Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus)


French: Goéland dominicain German: Dominikanermöwe Spanish: Gaviota cocinera

Larus dominicanus

M. H. C. Lichtenstein

, 1823,

coasts of Brazil


Species often treated as monotypic (e.g. in HBW), but recent studies of biometrics and wing pattern#R, augmented by subsequent sex-separated analyses of these parameters#R, indicate that recognition of subspecies is warranted, a conclusion supported by recent molecular study#R; but geographical delimitation of races requires further study, e.g. populations in S Patagonia appear close to austrinus, although they may be intermediate between latter and nominate. Form vetula recently suggested as perhaps a separate species on basis of eyering colour and skull morphology#R; these characters, however, here considered not strong enough to justify species status. Six subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. d. vetula Bruch, 1853 – S Africa from Namibia (Cape Cross) around coast to NE South Africa (Rietrivier, in KwaZulu-Natal); has bred in Senegal#R; non-breeders range on W coast N to Angola and rarely to Mauritania (Banc d’Arguin)#R and SW Morocco (Khnifiss Lagoon)#R#R, and on E coast to S Mozambique#R.
  • L. d. melisandae Jiguet, 2002 – S Madagascar.
  • L. d. judithae Jiguet, 2002 – subantarctic islands in Indian Ocean.
  • L. d. antipodus G. R. Gray, 1844 – SE Australia and New Zealand.
  • L. d. dominicanus M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823 – N Peru and S Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) S on coasts to Tierra del Fuego; breeding reported from S Ecuador#R#R.
  • L. d. austrinus J. H. Fleming, 1924 – South Georgia and Falkland Is S to Antarctica.
  • Descriptive notes

    54–65 cm; 810–1335 g; wingspan 128–142 cm. Four-year gull. Intermediate in size and build between L. fuscus and L. marinus but closer to... read more


    Gives a repeated “ee-ah” and various yelping and raucous calls. Long call similar to L.... read more


    Mainly occurs in coastal regions, including coastal waters, but often visits large inland lakes (e.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Very varied. Particularly benefits from food derived from anthropogenic sources, including fishery discards and refuse at rubbish dumps.... read more


    Nesting reported in Oct in South Africa, Sept–Dec in Australia, mid-Oct to Jan in New Zealand, mid Nov on subantarctic islands, Dec... read more


    Some populations resident, others migratory or dispersive.Tendency for increasing vagrancy to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common and conspicuous over much of range, increasing generally in response to expansion of agriculture and fisheries. Global... read more

    Recommended citation

    Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Garcia, E.F.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).