Offbeat: Mystery Solved: How Thousands of Rubber Bands Got to an Uninhabited Island in Cornwall - - PressFrom - Australia
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Offbeat Mystery Solved: How Thousands of Rubber Bands Got to an Uninhabited Island in Cornwall

08:36  27 october  2019
08:36  27 october  2019 Source:   mentalfloss.com

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Mystery Solved : How Thousands of Rubber Bands Got to an Uninhabited Island in Cornwall . Birding organization West Cornwall Ringing Group investigated the mystery further this year. Mullion Island is a sanctuary for gulls and other types of seabirds, so the researchers visited their old nesting

For several years, conservationists have been puzzled by thousands of brightly colored rubber bands showing up on an uninhabited island off the UK's southwestern tip. Elastic bands and fishing waste collected from Mullion Island . Experts think they've solved the mystery .

a close up of a colorful cable© JaggedPixels/iStock via Getty Images

Mullion Island, just south of Cornwall in England, seems like it should be an idyllic place. There are no permanent residents on the island, and anyone looking to step foot there needs to obtain a permit first. But the isolated patch of land is plagued by a problem that's common in cities: Rampant pollution. Rubber bands have been turning up there by the thousands, and experts think the problem stems from the bands' resemblance to worms, Smithsonian reports.

The rangers who managed the island owned by the National Trust were initially baffled by the appearance of the bands. The knew they weren't coming from the site's visitors, so something else had to have been transporting the trash there.

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When an uninhabited island became littered with thousands of brown, yellow and green elastic bands , experts were initially baffled. Especially considering Mullion Island off Cornwall is so remote that a permit is required to visit. But the mystery was solved by bird experts

Mullion Island is a tiny, uninhabited island off the south coast of Cornwall in the United Kingdom, and no So when thousands of multi-colored rubber bands kept showing up all over the island near the nests This year, the group decided to try and solve the mystery . “We first noticed the bands on a

Birding organization West Cornwall Ringing Group investigated the mystery further this year. Mullion Island is a sanctuary for gulls and other types of seabirds, so the researchers visited their old nesting area to clear the built-up waste and possibly identify its source. They found what they were looking for in pellets of bird poop: The feces contained remnants of rubber bands and fishing line, indicating that the birds had been mistaking them for food. They likely picked up the bands while looking for food on the farms of nearby Cornwall. Many of these farms grow flowers and use rubber bands to secure them together, and scientists believe birds searching for food in the fields then eat the bands.

If the Mullion birds are swallowing rubber and plastic and feeding it to their young, that could have disastrous consequences for the population. Researchers reported that the 2019 nesting season was "disappointingly poor" for the 70 pairs of great black-backed gulls on the island. The presence of litter on the island was likely just one factor at play: Warming seas and dwindling fish stocks have driven the decline of seabirds across the UK in recent years.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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