With my twenty-year high school reunion coming up this weekend, I can’t help but to be a bit nostalgic for Volusia county and my coastal hometowns of Ormond and Daytona Beach. I lived most of my childhood in Ormond Beach and went to high school in Daytona. The two “towns” are situated next to each other, Ormond to the north and Daytona to the south.
For better or worse, when I start thinking about those Volusia county beaches, I can’t help but to be reminded of the seagulls — particularly the laughing gulls (Larus atricilla, also known more recently as Leucophaeus atricilla) and Ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis). While other organisms would flock through Volusia county at various times of the year, those gulls were always there, day-in, day-out, twelve months a year, without fail. Utterly dedicated to begging for food any time they saw movement — regardless of whoever was in front of them.
The NASCAR Speed Weekers (Homo sapiens nascariensis) would wash over the area in February or so. The Bikers (Home sapiens loudbikiensis) roared through during March. The Canadian Spring Breakers (Homo sapiens palehockiensis) would politely eh their way through their sunburns at about the same time. And then came the American Spring Breakers (Homo sapiens drunkassiensis) gobbling up anything in front of them (including each other) from March through April. If ever there was a group of humans perpetually challenging the laws of physics with their morbidly saturated man meat, it would be the male Homo sapiens drunkassiensis. In the quieter months of the winter, our precious Snowbirds (Homo sapiens ithinkiowneverythingiensis) from up north would arrive and generally boss us all around and complain about mosquitos and alligators for a few months. They often to love everything about Florida except for all the stuff that’s actually Floridian.
Still, all the while, those seagulls were always on the beach, begging for food, crying up a storm, and relying heavily on the sloppiness and piss poor dietary habits of humans in all their forms. Wave after wave of people would hit Florida and leave unspeakable heaps of trash and debris on the beach. The gulls, of course, would then eat the hell out of the trash and scraps. On the beach, there’s always a
french freedom fry to be found.
Secretly, I suspect seagulls invented tourism in Florida — as a way to bypass the hard work of earning a living as a bird.
I’m not really a fan of seagulls, though they are easy to make fun of (and that’s awesome). They are rather beautiful animals and it’s awesome when they flock together on a foggy morning, as seen above, but my god… When they gang up on you for your sandwich… When they just sit there, looking at you, screaming (or, yes, laughing)… Or when they hover over you and let one drop on your face… Yeah, not my favorite bird. Beautiful, yes. But sort of assholish. In a way, seagulls are sort of like many of Florida’s tourists.
There are many things I look forward to this weekend and I can honestly say that seagulls aren’t one of them. BUT: I know when I see them, that old love-hate passion will bubble over and I’ll find myself photographing them again. As I always do. Like it or not, they’re a part of my Volusia county lifeblood. It’s important to love your home — warts and all.
Also: I must admit, seagulls can be smarter and understand gravity better than many spring breakers. I’ve yet to hear of a seagull who plummeted from a balcony, hoping to dive into the pool far below, only to miss and land on the concrete. Sure, they get hit by fast cars whenever Tom Cruise comes to town, as happened during filming of the hit motion picture cheese, Days of Thunder — but I blame that more on cult religions and technology than I do birds. It’s important to be judicially fair.
These photographs were taken in Daytona Beach, Florida on 05 March 2004 (during Bike Week)!