With over 15,800 reported articles discussing seagull sightings and attacks, many laugh about it after, whilst others are left in fear or feeling outraged.
New research by caravan insurance experts, Caravan Guard, has revealed over half the Brits surveyed have experienced a seagull attack in popular locations across the UK – stay alert if you’re heading to the coast this weekend as you could be troubled by the feathered pests.
The top 20 locations reported for gull swooping and food stealing are:
Cornwall, St Ives
Devon, Woolacombe Beach
Porthcawl sea front
Many are popular seaside locations, however London City has had reports of scenes described as: “There’s panic in the streets of London — and across England — over increasingly violent seagull attacks, with at least one terrified victim warning that it’s only a matter of time before one proves fatal.”*
Reported items that attract a seagull’s attention are:
Fish and chips
Why do seagulls dive-bomb?
A study published in the Royal Society journal Open Science has revealed seagulls actually prefer food that has been handled by humans. The birds swoop on ice creams, chips and other seaside treats because they see people with them. They see it as a sign of food availability.
If seagulls become aggressive, they have a reason to do so, and it is usually to protect their young or their nests, so if a seagull is “dive-bombing” you, you are probably too close to her chicks.
How to protect yourself from a seagull?
Agitated gulls make warning calls first, to encourage you to move away
If you can’t avoid having your food visible, try and keep your food as close to your body
If you stay put, the gull may swoop low towards you as a warning, but it most likely will not touch you
If you are still there, the gull may defecate or regurgitate food towards you, sometimes with great accuracy
If you haven't left by now, the gull will fly down and make contact with you, usually your head, with its feet, sometimes causing injury
If a gull does come toward you, the best defence is to raise your arms to protect your head and then move away
Waving your arms will only make the gull more agitated
In any case, please try not to panic. Since they are most likely targeting your food and not you, in the worst-case scenario, you will lose your food to them
Simon Bollon from York said: “I was in Whitby last year, bought fish and chips. Sat on the seafront and a huge seagull stole my fish! There were signs around the seated area by the bandstand but not a lot you can do when they swoop! We then bought a new portion and I sat in a deckchair with my coat over my head to eat them!”
Charlotte Chapman from Manchester: “I was staying close to Lake Windermere, I saw many seagulls walking around which didn’t faze me at the time, we decided to get an ice cream and sit by the pier. I was just about to take a bite from my ice cream when a big seagull dive-bombed out from out of nowhere and stole my ice cream. But what I also hadn’t realised the shock of the experience also made me lose my phone to the water – which was hilarious for my friends and passers-by, but it ruined my holiday.”
Liz Harrison, PR & Communications Manager at Caravan Guard, commented: “Many Brits can’t wait to get away for this final Bank Holiday weekend of the year, with the sun set to come out and staycations in full force for 2020.
“Our survey highlighted just how common seagull attacks are across the UK with some popular seaside destinations being prone hotspots. We want many UK holidaymakers to enjoy their break away this summer without the traumatic experience of being dive-bombed by a seagull and hope the tips we’ve shared allow for an enjoyable weekend away and a time to relax.”