Understanding Hungry Seagull (2019) – Deafening Silence

The main diet of black-tailed gulls, the subject of the short movie (Hungry Seagull) is pelagic fish in the sea, mollusks and aquatic insects in coastal wetlands and estuaries. However, with the over-fishing and the pollution of the marine environment, seagulls can catch fewer and fewer small fish in the upper layer

Introduction

‘Hungry seagull’ is a short documentary that runs for just over 7 minutes. However, the impact it creates on us, the viewers, is strong enough to trigger our thoughts.

“It is not about how long you tell a story. It is about how strong you tell a story.”

The beginning

The film begins with a shot of a seagull flying towards its pair. They are searching for food (fishes, to be specific) to feed their younger ones. We get to see a couple of chicks waiting for their parents. Soon an adult seagull catches its prey and comes to feed them. The chicks enjoy their little meal with delight. Their tiny eyes are filled with excitement. The title card fades in.

Hungry Seagull
The chick seagull waiting for its parents

Just when we feel relaxed that everything is going fine, we get a gull’s eye view of the fishing nets sprawling for miles. The gull’s eyes then shift to acres of space knitted together with fishing nets and boathouses. We then get to see continuous, heartbreaking visuals of how profound the fishing business has penetrated throughout the river.

The story of pollution

As the gulls fly over, We see the waste coming out of a factory getting mixed into the river. A chunk of the entire river is red with harmful chemicals and poisonous remains. The gull flies over the industries which spread over its entire viewpoint. A few continuously leak toxic waste in the form of air directly into the atmosphere, while the others make sure to pollute the river water with the untreated chemicals. We are shocked and surprised to find such an unrelated slideshow playing in front of those seagulls.

What are they trying to convey to us? Why are the gulls showing us these devastations? Why are they even flying over these ruins? Why aren’t they with their chicks whom they were feeding just a minute ago? Why don’t the gulls simply show us the unfathomable relations that always seem to be omnipresent amongst the animals? Why don’t they enlighten us on those magical feelings? Why, Why, and why?

The chemicals released from the factories cover the whole river surface
The chemicals released from the factories cover the whole river surface

Just as our thoughts munch on these questions, we see a little chick waiting for its mother to bring back food and feed it. Now we get it. We understand that the mother has gone in search of food. The food here, unfortunately, is fish. The gulls are roaming around the river to find fishes. Yes, the same fishes those fishing nets capture and pour into their boats. Yes, the fishes in the same river where those industries mix their poison. The gulls’ search takes it round the river. And all it could find are structures and things the purpose of their presence never known to the gulls.

The Hungry Seagulls

The gulls are totally confused. They are unable to find the fishes which were abundant in the river just a few years back. They couldn’t stop their search, however. They have their chicks to feed on. So they look around in search of food in other forms. They move to the land. They find huge heaps of human-made mountains. They fly down and settle amidst those mountains. They poke the heaps with their beaks to find food of any sort.

Of course, it is disheartening to find the gulls searching for their food in the heaps of garbage. A whole flock of seagulls land on that garbage and peck them with their beaks in vain to find food of any sort. As the camera shifts away to their young ones waiting for their food, they keep pecking the garbage, permeated with electronic and plastic wastes. The hungry seagulls’ chicks gaze towards the sea with eyes full of hope. Or, Is it rather Fear?

Hungry Seagull
The hungry seagulls waiting for its parents

Our hearts feel for the seagulls as the end credits begin to scroll. We are completely clueless as to how the future of those seagulls would look like. Just like how unsure we are of our future. One point seems very obvious, however. Something is not going in the right direction and is seriously wrong. We need to take action and find the faults. As we keep procrastinating on the steps we need to take, time is running out.

Over Exploitation of Natural Resources

We have destroyed a considerable amount of natural resources. Over-fishing and extreme pollution have cost us severely. The reason we act as though everything is normal is that we feel safe (Actually, we are not). The immediate victims of our acts are generally animals that depend solely on these natural resources and are not us. The birds and fishes are greatly impacted by our ruthless actions.

The disappearance of food has led many birds like these seagulls to eat medical and plastic wastes from our garbage heaps. Not only their current life comes under threat, but also their chicks are harshly affected at birth. They change their reproduction pattern. The chicks face severe malnutrition and seldom survive their first year.

As we keep exploiting their natural food source, we endanger those species and severely alter their lifestyle. Many videos have surfaced on YouTube, showing these gulls fighting over food. Many videos show these birds stealing food from us. These clips gain popularity owing to their funny tone.

The message

Unfortunately, we smile at them and fail to understand the severity of the underlying problem. The problem that has been created and manifested by us, humans. It’s time we realise that those sufferings are not very far from attacking us. The fall is most certainly imminent. It lies in our hands to acknowledge this and act soon.

“What are selfish people, but ones who use the weakness of others for their own pleasure?”

The entire short film has no single dialogue throughout. But the harsh and deafening cries of the seagulls are a clear sign of what lay ahead for us. These hungry seagulls now roam around in search of food. In no time, those seagulls could be replaced by humans. The strong message of the film lies in the silent questioning of our past and present actions. It pinpoints the problems created by those actions. It urges the need to revisit them. Those alone can decide if the future can bring any sort of hope to those fear-filled eyes of the chicks.


Hungry Seagull poster


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