A long-winged, web-footed bird frequenting the sea.
(Sch: t. 110; cpl. 15; a. 2 guns)
Sea Gull was originally the New York pilot boat New Jersey employed on the Sandy Hook run. She was purchased by the Navy in July 1838 to be used by the Wilkes Exploring Expedition for survey work.
She was outfitted with a new mast and sails in three days and, under the command of Passed Midshipman James W. E. Reid, sailed for Hampton Roads to join the expedition as a tender. The squadron departed from Hampton Roads on 18 August 1838 and sailed for Madeira, arriving on 16 September. The ships left Madeira on 25 September, arriving at Porto Praya in the Cape Verde Islands on 7 October 1838. After surveying shoals reported in these areas, the expedition headed south and west for Rio de Janeiro, dropping anchor on 23 November 1838. The next few weeks were spent in preparing for the trip around Cape Horn. Leaving Rio de Janeiro on 6 January 1839, they rounded the Cape with no difficulty and arrived in Orange Harbor.
On 25 February 1839, Wilkes, in company with Sea Gull, began an exploration of Antarctica. Heavy weather was encountered almost at once, and Wilkes ordered Sea Gull to return to Orange Harbor to await the return of the remainder of the squadron.
Early in May, after several long delays, Sea Gull and Flying Fish set sail for Valparaiso, Chile. They encountered strong gales and heavy seas and lost contact with each other on 8 May. Flying Fish arrived at Valparaiso alone on 19 May 1839. It is assumed that Sea Gull foundered, taking her entire ship's company of 15 officers and men with her.