Pacific Gull

To: "Tim Dolby" <>
Subject: Pacific Gull
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Sat, 16 Aug 2008 18:11:05 +1000
Tim asked an interesting question but I have a very different answer to at 
least the selection I have look at so far. Why Pacific Gull? I think his 
question was based on 2 assumptions that I would question whether they have any 

1 that the name given to a species should in some way be general of the species 
in its entirety, and

2 that "Pacific" has something to do with geography, rather than behaviour.

I would reply that the name given to a species really has only anything to do 
with whatever the first person naming it had on his or her mind when applying 
the name. It may relate to the one individual (type specimen) being named but 
there is no requirement for it to relate to the species as a whole. Therefore 
if "Pacific" has something to do with geography then all that is needed is that 
the first one found and named to have been on the Pacific for the name to make 
sense. It is irrelevant if others are found elsewhere. Yes I know that refers 
to the scientific name, however both scientific name and common name are 
usually given at the same time, in creatures such as birds. There are plenty of 
very dopey bird and other fauna names out there.

Secondly, I recall a RAOU seminar some years ago when someone was describing 
the Pacific Gull as a wimp, especially by comparison with the more aggressive 
Kelp Gull. Noting that pacific means peaceful, on that basis why doesn't 
Pacific Gull simply mean Peaceful Gull and nothing whatever to do with the name 
of the ocean. I don't know if that is indeed the history but it sounds like a 
much better option to me. After all we have a Peaceful Dove.


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