Town of Rauma
Department of Environment 2005


Truut, a sea gull of Rauma

Truut is Rauma dialect. A word loue in Rauma dialect also means a sea gull. Some years ago Truut was chosen as a municipal animal of Rauma. It is a question of a large sea gull – herring gull, lesser black-backed gull, or great black-backed gull. The photo above is a great black-backed gull.

The report of the great black-backed gull in this brochure is based on the article of Raimo Sundelin in the newspaper Länsi-Suomi in 1997 and Raumanmeri in 1998.

The lesser black-backed gull, which can also be called Truut, was strongly declined in the 1990’s. 76 pairs of this sea gull, which is also called the most Finnish bird in the world, were seen to be nesting in 2003 in front of Rauma and Eurajoki.

The stocks of the third large sea gull, the herring gull, have been strongly increasing. One reason for that is its ability to utilize dumps for nutrition.

Truut is a sea gull of Rauma

The great black-backed gull, Lasarus Marinus, Havstrut, Mantelmöwe, Merikaijakas ( Estonia ) is a bird without a species name in Rauma dialect. It is Truut like all the other large sea gulls at the Rauma Sea , like herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls, too. The general name is natural, because the young sea gulls between 1-3 years have the same kind of brownish feathers. They are fairly hard to recognize. The grown-up sea gulls can be recognized as well as the buoys. Especially after the nesting season different types of sea gulls gather on certain islets, mostly young ones. This has probably given names for the islands of Rauma like Trutbuda, Truthällan and Trutkallio.  he great black-backed gull is the largest one of the five sea gulls nesting in the archipelago. It can be separated from the other dark-backed, slender lesser black-backed gull from its sturdier figure and heavier wing strokes. The back and upper side of wings of the great black-backed gull are grey-blackish excluding the white rear edge. The lesser black-backed gull has them black. The head and belly-side of the great black-backed gull are pure white. It has a sturdy yellow beak with a red spot in the lower part. Webfeet are reddish-grey. The wing distance is 150-170 cm and it can weigh over 2 kg.

Sounds of the great black-backed gull are low and hollow. Very common are gaao-shouts or shrieking series. The bird disturbed from the nest alarms high gaga, gaga…The great black-backed gull is a long-life bird and it can live for some decades. A Finnish gull has the record and it is 25 years and 10 months. 

In sea areas and in Saimaa

From the 46 gull species of the world the great black-backed gull is a North-Atlantic type mainly nesting on the shores in Europe from the White Sea to the Bay of Biscay , in the North-Eastern parts of North-America, and on ocean islands up to Spitsbergen . The amount nesting in Europe is estimated to be 100 000 pairs.

In Finland this species nests in addition to sea areas with a few pairs in Lake Saimaa , Lake Vanajavesi , Lake Inarinjärvi and on some open swamps of Pohjanmaa. The amount of nesting great black-backed gulls in Finland is at present abt. 3000. There are herring gulls ten times as much.

From the 160 nesting birds in Rauma the great black-backed gull is the most studied one. In the beginning of 1930’s Kurt Enkola saw the great black-backed gull only once in the archipelago of Rauma. No nest was found. At that time the bird was considered to be a nutritional competitor and it was killed and the nest was destroyed like in old times. Pentti Forsten was counting the birds of the archipelago of Rauma in 1970’s. There were 1-3 nesting pairs between Rihtniemi and Eurajoki. E.g. in 1967 the nests were in Ulko-Kylmä, Trutkallio and Iso Pyrekari.

I became interested in sea gulls in mid 1970’s, when the species started to increase in Finland . I looked up all the nesting great black-backed gulls of the area in 1981-1986 and studied their nesting biology. The stock grew from 17 pairs to 28. The success went on. In 1988 the amount was already 32. During the same summer was carried out a bird research of the archipelagos in Satakunta. It revealed 110 nests. The last counting in the archipelago of Rauma in 1995 for the master plan revealed nearly 40 great black-backed gulls on the rocks.

The nest is made of dry grass

The great black-backed gulls arrive at the end of May from the southern Baltic Sea . They move to their nesting rocks and when the ice is broken up they build a fairly large nest of dry grass. It is decorated with a few white feathers. The first egg appears around the 1st of May and every two days usually three eggs are laid. The earliest nestings start nowadays at the discharge waters of the nuclear power plant.

The great black-backed gull nests for the first time at the age of 4-5 years and mainly in single pairs.

In summer 1996 two pairs were nesting on the same island for the first time in the archipelago of Rauma and appropriately on the bird protection rock of Trutbuda. The nearest stocks are in Kustavi. The greatest colonies in Finland have 30-40 pairs. On the other hand only 1% of the herring gulls nests in single pairs.

The great black-backed gull nests mostly on small rocks of a woodless archipelago. When growing in numbers it has also moved to the inner islands. Here it nests as well on Ruuhiluodonklopit as on Suokarit. To Laakonmatala it moved in summer 1995. A permanent territory predicts the municipal bird also to Saukonkarit.

The brooding starts from the second egg and the young birds pip the eggs in different times after four weeks. The young eiders pip the eggs at the same time.

The great black-backed gull and the eider can nest quite close to each other. The gull does not rob the nests, but easily picks up the young ones from the sea.

Young gulls start to fly in seven weeks at the end of July. Most great black-backed gulls in Rauma get their young ones flying. The most common single reason for a destroyed nest is human disturbance, when the crow takes the eggs. At the nest the gull is timid and from the present great black-backed gull mothers in Rauma only one attacks like a tern. It even recognizes my boat and comes towards it from far away!

The young ones stay long on their nesting island before forming gangs on their Truut rocks.

The success of the great black-backed gull

The success of the great black-backed gull is due to the lessening of the persecution and increasing of the nutrition. The species belongs to those birds in Finland who are out-laws. Why?

The catch increase in professional and free-time fishing together with fish breeding have also benefited the great black-backed gull. It hardly ever visits any dumps.

The success of the catcher depends on the success of the catch. The eider stocks of Finland have been greatly increasing during the last decades excluding the quite recent years. In the beginning of 1970’s the eider amount in the archipelago of Rauma was less than 100 pairs, in the counting of 1996 it rose to abt. 1200 pairs. It has partly helped the nutrition situation of the great black-backed gull.

Being a municipal bird obliges

Was the great black-backed gull a good choice for a municipal animal? Did it have any good rivals? Other sea life? What about the jackdaw of Old Rauma?

The great black-backed gull is a magnificent bird, who manages by itself at sea and in the archipelago. So want the people of Rauma also do?! 

The great black-backed gull has been nesting here e.g. on Kokkovuori already 4200 years before the foundation of Rauma. The jackdaws came after the fire of Turku in 1827.

Symbols are selected because of images. Images must be met, too. Inhabitants of Rauma must take care of the sea and the archipelago in their decisions and actions. The archipelago must not only be a spare area for some efficient human action. The demand of becoming Europeans also concerns the non-building of the shores.



The brochure is a part of the PRE Rauma Sea National Park-project information.  The future goal is a nature-preserving and canper-friendly national park to the outer islands of Selkämeri and the versatile inner islands off Rauma.  The area is a natural sight with good possibilities to improve the knowledge of nature and the interest of nature.

The PRE Rauma Sea National Park-project has been supported by LoSYK/EAKR     




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