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The adult Kelp Gull has black upperparts and wings. The head, underparts, tail and the small "mirrors" at the wing tips are white. The bill is yellow with a red spot, and the legs are greenish-yellow. They take three or four years to reach maturity.
They breed on coasts and islands through much of the southern hemisphere. The race L. d. vetula (known as the Cape Gull) occurs around southern Africa, and nominate L. d. dominicanus is the subspecies found around South America, parts of Australia (where it overlaps with Pacific Gull), and New Zealand.