Belgian coastal town hosts European seagull screeching contest

Belgian coastal town hosts European seagull screeching contest
Credit: Belga / James Arthur Gekiere

The Belgian coastal town of De Panne hosted the 2023 edition of the European Gull Screeching Championship on Sunday.

In the contest, Candidates took turns to best imitate a seagull’s screeches, with a five-person jury awarding this year's title to the Dutch participant, Jarmo Slutter.

Sunday was the event’s third-ever edition. It started five years ago as a Belgian-only competition with the aim of “bridging the gap” between humans and seagulls. 

The organisers had initially wanted to remove the negative views people may hold of seagulls as dangerous and loud birds. Since its launch, the competition has grown into a mini-festival. This year the contest was held in a bar near De Panne with a large crowd.

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This year’s winner Jarmo Slutter comes from the Dutch city of Eindhoven and explained to VRT NWS how he ended up competing, somewhat by accident. "I just imitated a seagull once and apparently it sounded good,” which led his friends to look up if there were any competitions to showcase his talent.

Having found the championships, Slutter signed despite "never thinking that I would win." Nonetheless, he will now be heading home with a gold medal draped over his gull costume, which was not a requirement but rather Slutter’s choice entirely.

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