How do thousands of elastic bands end up on an uninhabited island?
The National Trust says it has solved the mystery of Mullion Island – the bands are brought to the remote outcrop off the Cornish coast by seabirds mistakenly thinking they are worms.
Rangers believe great black-backed and herring gulls eat the rubbish in agricultural fields on the mainland, before flying back to roosting sites on the island and regurgitating the waste.
Plastic fishing net and twine were also found in the undigested food.
Rachel Holder, Area Ranger for the National Trust, 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.
“Despite being noisy and boisterous and seemingly common, gulls are on the decline. They’re already struggling with changes to fish populations and disturbance to nesting sites – and eating elastic bands and fishing waste does nothing to ease their plight.”
The National Trust is calling on businesses to consider how they dispose of plastic, latex and other materials that could damage wildlife.