The bird sanctuary that is Mullion Island, which lies off the South Western coast of the U.K., has become a baffling and saddening example of what human waste can do to nature.
The island requires people to have a permit in order to visit it and is a protected area for the birds in the area. When rubber bands started covering its shores, National Trust rangers began to scratch their heads.
Now, the widespread belief is that seabirds have been bringing these bands over from the mainland, believing them to be worms.
Mullion Island and the rubber bands
The National Trust — a British organization that preserves the U.K.'s historical and national sites — received the alarming information that thousands of elastic bands were discovered all across the 850-foot-wide island.
What National Trust rangers quickly discovered was that these bands had been mistaken for worms by gulls and other seabirds, and had been flown over back to their sanctuary.
Black-backed gulls and herring gulls roost on the island and would have brought these bands back for their little ones.
It's now been shared that these rubber bands most likely came from agricultural fields from the mainland, or from bands that hold together bunches of flowers that are grown in the area.
Humans, once again, are the problem
Area Ranger for the National Trust, Rachel Holder said, "Ingested plastic and rubber is another factor in a long list of challenges which our gulls and other seabirds must contend with just to survive."
Mullion Island, a small, rocky, remote & uninhabited outpost off the Lizard Peninsula, has been littered with thousands of elastic bands by seabirds mistakenly thinking they're worms: https://t.co/RnPbA0KQvN#nature #wildlife #conservation #SingleUsePlastic pic.twitter.com/3FFhS2WPzY— National Trust SW (@NTSouthWest) October 25, 2019
It may be believed that seagulls or seabirds are as fervent and alive as ever on the island, due to their loud noises and bustling nature. However, they are dwindling in numbers, as Holder notes: "Despite being noisy and boisterous and seemingly common, gulls are on the decline."
"Places like Mullion Island should be sanctuaries for our seabirds, so it's distressing to see them become victims of human activity," finished Holder.
The National Trust is imploring local businesses to find other ways to get rid of plastics and materials that could harm the surrounding wildlife.
Thousands of elastic bands have been collected from the remote bird haven of Mullion Island @SWCornwallNT.— National Trust (@nationaltrust) October 23, 2019
Our rangers who care for the colony were initially puzzled but believe the bands were mistaken by seabirds for worms: https://t.co/YfbZ3AJh6Z pic.twitter.com/23yi2utB7C
"Single-use materials are having an alarming impact on our country’s most remote places," said Lizzy Carlyle, head of environmental practices at the National Trust.
"It’s up to all of us to take responsibility for how we use and dispose of these items—whether we’re producers or consumers."