Scientists have figured out how to stop seagulls from stealing your food

Must See 17/12/2019

Seagulls stealing your snacks could be a thing of the past as scientists have discovered how to deter the birds from swooping in on your food.

The cure is a good old-fashioned staring contest.

Madeleine Goumas, a post-graduate researcher at Exeter University, discovered seagulls take an average of 21 seconds longer to steal hot chips if they were being watched.

Goumas sat on popular English beaches armed with a stopwatch and a bag of chips. Half of the time she looked away and let the birds swoop in, and for the other half, she stared them dead in the eye.

"We found they are less likely to approach food when they're being watched," said Goumas in her study published in Biology Letters.

"Sometimes they would jump and stop dead when they realised they were being watched."

Not all the seagulls bothered with the chips though. Of 74 birds targeted for the study, only 26 percent touched the food. Of that 26 percent, eye contact delayed the attack for 21 seconds.

So the next time you're trying to enjoy a relaxing meal on the beach, make sure you stop and glare at a seagull - it'll make your food last longer.