|1cy armenicus: December
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During the latter half of the twentieth century the preservation and the protection of the Earth's wildlife has become of great importance to all the countries of the world. Such concern is often recorded on a nation's coinage and the Royal Mint is proud to strike a limited quantity of silver Proof coins for Armenia in conjunction with the Central Bank's reguest. The coin is included in a prestigious international coin collection featuring endangered and indigenous fauna and flora. The Armenian Seagull is mainly found in the basin of Lake Sevan and Lake Arpi which are considered the main nesting sites in the world. The Armenian Seagull is preserved by the Government and is registered in the Armenian Red Book. The reverse of the coin was designed by Hrachya Aslanyan.
Fightling over food, showing pattern on upperwing and tail.
Larus argentatus armenicus Buturlin
Status: It is characterized by limited area and lightly vulnerable nesting biotypes (3-5).
Diffusion: It is annually found only in Lake Sevan basin (Gegharkunik), where you also find the main nesting colony. It also nests on islands in the Lake Arpi. It is found in the main rivers like Araks, Hrazdan, and Akhourian rivers and Armenian Gulls became common birds inthe Ararat Valley during the last years, when freshw water pond development increased. However, it does not breed here.
Environmnet & conditions: Before water levels in Lake Sevan dropped, it nested on precipitous rocks along the water edge. Here at Lake Sevan, thewy found favorable nesting conditions and the place provided them with enough food by high fish quantities and the presence of fish-processing plant wastes.
Over the last decade, water levels dropped, and the shore is now far away from rocks. Islands have become easily accessible for man and animals. Numbers of fish decreased, the fish industry was abandoned; worsening the gulls food basics. In practice, gulls were not breeding over several years. Due to continuing lowering of Lake Sevan waters, two islands were created near Norashen village district, which were successfully occupied by gulls. However, this main breeding residence will be again under the water in future because of planned increasing of Sevan water level by 4-6 meters. The worsening process of natural food basics continues, because of trout number are sharply decreasing. also, less fisherman are catching this species, leaving less left-overs. It leads to gulls concentration around garbage and food objects. Now a big role in theirs nourishment plays food wastes.
Population dynamics: Dynamics of Armenian Gull absolute quantity are predetermined by nesting and food conditions of Lake Sevan basin, which in present time are characterized by severe non-stability. Here, in the last years there is a marked decreasing in gull numbers.
On average the data for Armenian Gull at Sevan are: in spring about 800 individuals, in summer 700, in autumn 1000 and in winter up to about 500 individuals are present. When the Lake Sevan completely freezes the main group of gulls leave Sevan for Araks river system.
In the most favorable years before wintering the whole gull population in the Republic does not exceed 1200 individuals.
Reproduction: Basic breeding colonies are the two islands in Lake Sevan, which are by total square about 3,5 ha. There is a marked tendency for breeding couples to nest on Lake Arpa.
Fightling over food.
Population relationships: The breeding period is strongly stretched since several negative factors make birds to need to retry nesting again. There is also much loss of eggs, forcing birds to repeat laying. As a result, by the end of May, the beginning of June, one can still find fresh layings and small fledglings swimming by groups around islands.
The number of birds participating in reproduction can vary from 20 till 86% of gulls (aged grouped together, no separation of immatures, which compose approximately 20% of the population). The breeding population thus fluctuates from year to year. Usually nests contain three eggs, sometimes only two, and as rare exception there have been nests with four eggs. From 1965 till 1970, the Sevan colony calculated 60-100 nests. Due to the arrangements regarding the island fish farm liquidation, the gull colony increased till 500 nests in most favorable years.
One of the factors influencing the reproduction rate is the extended nesting period. Adult birds which are incubating eggs destroy almost all chicks around theirs nests. As a result, and also due to food shortage during nesting period, chick survival rate is only 17-56%.
Competion, enemies, diseases: Armenian Gull has not serious competitors, as they are destroyed by man in all stages. In some years the colony has significant losses by straying foxes and dogs. There is a marked high helminths (parasitic worms) infection.
Factors changing population numbers: There is a destroyment of the main breeding residences at lake Sevan for several reasons.
1. The main new-formed breeding islands have become peninsulas, because the water level in Lake Sevan changes. Now breeding sites are easily assessable for animals and man.
2. Human population in the nearby villages use eggs and chicks for their food supply.
3. Adults are hunted because of their down.
4. Nests are destroyed by fishermen, who think that numbers of commercially marketable fish species decrease by the consumption of the breeding gulls.
This all makes the gull's food condition to worsen sharply. It started as a consequence of decreasing fish numbers which is the main food supply in the breeding season and the difficulties to have access to food in winter. Due to falling water levels in the lake, it now completely freezes almost annually. Food waste and left-overs are also difficult to find due to freezing and the covering of a thick snow layer in winter.
Quantity in captivity: No information.
Reproduction in captivity: No information.
Admitted protection measures: Armenian Gull is protected by the Republic hunting legislation. Nowadays, the Lake is part of the "Sevan National Park" and the main gull residences (Norashen islands) were included in reserved zone.
Necessary protection measures:
To carry out filed work for stable preservation of breeding biotype on the island.
To provide reliable protection of gulls both on the Lake and on concentration places, near garbage dumps.
To lead systematically explanatory work with local population.
The obverse depicts the Coat of Arms of the Republic of Armenia.
The coin's reverse features the Armenian Silver Seagull (Larus argentatus armenicus) above the contour of Lake Sevan.