How To Keep Seagulls Off Your Boat? 3 Best Options

What an annoyance! You’ve just arrived at the dock to spend a leisurely day on the water when you notice a flock of seagulls hanging out on your pontoon boat. Even worse, they’ve left waste all over the deck and seats. Instead of enjoying your outing, you are now stuck cleaning surfaces that, if left for too long, will stain and erode. So how do you keep them from coming back? Luckily, there are a few ways. 

The best way to keep seagulls off of your boat is to use a combination of chemical and physical deterrents that are regularly switched out for other types. It’s important to cycle through different physical deterrents because seagulls are smart and can figure out that they are fake very quickly.

Luckily, there is a wide variety of products that you can buy to prevent seagulls from perching on your pontoon boat. They are also relatively inexpensive, which makes swapping different deterrents easier on the wallet. After reading, you’ll know exactly why and how you should keep seagulls away. 

Why Deter Seagulls from your Boat? 

Seagulls are one of the biggest nuisances for boat owners not only because they are noisy but because they can cause several problems. Most importantly, there are many health risks that come with being exposed to seagull feces. 

Scientists have found diseases and viruses like E. coli, histoplasmosis, and salmonella in seagull droppings that can easily transmit to humans if they come into contact with them. In fact, 90% of all seagull droppings have the bacteria enterococcus, which can give way to several antibiotic-resistant diseases. 

Despite the potential health problems, seagull feces are also corrosive and acidic which does not bode well for any boat or dock. Pontoon boat owners have reported stains and eroding paint, and damage to metal finishes and exposed electrical parts due to seagull feces that wasn’t cleaned off in time. 

Why Do Birds Like My Pontoon Boat? 

Your boat is most likely a hot spot for birds because it’s near a food source. Seagulls will go through anything to get food. Because of that, if there are any crabs, mussels, oysters, or fish near your boat you can guarantee that a seagull isn’t far behind if it isn’t posted up on your boat already. Seagulls aren’t the only birds that like this type of food, so you’ll certainly see other bird species if a food source is nearby. 

How Do I Get Rid of Seagulls from my Pontoon Boat? 

Unfortunately, seagulls adapt really well to repetitive noises or patterns, so using sound or vision to keep seagulls away is only a temporary fix unless you swap them out often. Cycling through physical deterrents are great on their own, but keeping them away is most effective when used in combination with a chemical repellent as well. 

Chemical Repellent 

The most common bird repellents on the market contain the active ingredient methyl anthranilate, which is non-toxic and safe for the environment. This repellent does a good job keeping birds away. All it does is discourage birds from nesting, breeding, and hanging out in the area where it’s sprayed.  

You can make your own homemade seagull repellent by mixing water, green or red chili flakes, and vinegar in a spray bottle. Spraying this around perching spots on your boat will definitely turn up their noses and make spending time there unappealing. 

Physical Deterrents 

Physical deterrents are the most popular way boaters keep seagulls away. As stated before, seagulls will quickly realize the decoys are phony, so don’t just use one type. Instead, switch them out every couple of weeks so that the gull is constantly facing a new threat if they come near your pontoon boat. 

One type of deterrent you can use to keep birds away is a reflector. They look like lamps but instead of bulbs, there are two reflective plates that move in the breeze. The rapid succession of bright sunlight in many directions confuses the birds and makes your boat an unpleasant place to be. There is a mounting bracket so you can mount these directly to your dock.

Another effective physical deterrent is a 3D balloon. These specially-made vinyl balloons are patterned with eyes that mimic the eyes of predator birds. Seagulls will not go near your boat if they think a predator is there (until they’ve figured out it’s fake).  

Boaters have reported tremendous success with gator guards at scaring off seagulls. Gator guards are floating alligator heads that are easy to install and inexpensive. Once the heads are attached, they bob with the wind and water. They are particularly effective because of their disorienting mirrored eyes that catch the light and appear to follow the viewer anywhere they go.  

Other than the specific physical deterrents above, anything that bounces or moves rapidly in the wind will be temporarily effective at startling birds and will make your boat too chaotic for them to rest there. 

Boat Dock Deterrents

anti bird plastic spike for protecting building from pigeon

If you park in a slip and seagulls are roosting on the framework that is above, consider these spikes which will keep them off of the area for roosting. Spikes can be mounted next to each other if you have a wider beam to attach them to. Doing this will keep them from hanging out in the shade pooping on your boat.


In addition to using physical and chemical deterrents for seagulls, make sure the area around your boat is unpleasant to them as well by removing any trash from the area, especially any remnants from fish cleaning. 

A clean dock, displeasing scents, and scary decoys are surefire ways to keep these pesky birds from perching on your boat again. Although it won’t always be 100% effective, you can rest assured that your boat will be far less agreeable than surrounding areas.