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6 Reasons Why You Should Never Feed The Seagulls In Whitby

Fish, chips and ice cream are favourite seaside snacks for both humans and seagulls. When visiting Whitby, don’t be tempted to feed the seagulls.

Seagulls are everywhere you look in Whitby, watching you and waiting for you to throw them some of your tasty seaside food. Like us, I’m sure you’ve been tempted to throw these magnificent seabirds a crumb or two. After all, what harm can it do? Well, it causes quite a bit of trouble, so we are being asked not to do it. To explain a bit further, here are 6 reasons why it’s not a good idea to feed Whitby’s seagulls.

Seagull Stealing Food

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1. They develop an unhealthy dependance on humans for food

It’s human nature that where we are offered an easy option, we’ll take it; therefore, it should be no surprise that seagulls will too. Hence, the more we feed them, the more they’ll eat it, and the more they’ll become dependent upon us and our diet. This may not seem like the end of the world; after all, with the constant supply of seaside goodies, the seagull certainly isn’t going to starve. However, considering the types of food we eat at the seaside, and how bad they are for us, it stands to reason that they will not be healthy for a seagull either. Eating a natural diet of fish, marine invertebrates, insects, seeds, and fruits gives a seagull all the nutrients they need to survive. Doughnuts, fish and chips, ice cream, and candy floss, on the other hand, do not! Ironically, this lack of nutrients they receive from human foods only makes them beg even more to make up for the nutrients they lack, leading them to be even more dependent upon us.

Seagull in Whitby

2. There’s no room at the inn!

By feeding seagulls, we attract them to urban areas they would not naturally inhabit. In turn, this means that they have to find new places to nest that aren’t cliff faces or, in some cases, trees. Usually, and unfortunately for us, the urban nesting site of choice is our roofs! Nesting seagulls on your roof can be an expensive problem that proves extremely disruptive if not dealt with quickly. Parents protect their young and will swoop and attack anyone they see as a threat. That’s not to mention the noise from their squawks, mess from their poop, and the fact that they may return to nesting sites year after year.

Seagull in Whitby

3. Stop… food thief!

Over time the seagulls of Whitby have lost all their fear of humans and see them purely as a food source. This, in turn, has transformed them into a menace that will stop at nothing to get food, including attacking adults, children, and other animals. This is especially true when seagulls are in a pack, like in Whitby, as they become extra aggressive. However, in the seagull’s defence, it is not that they are being vicious; instead, they are trying to feed and survive. Also, a seagull cannot differentiate between a human offering them food and people just trying to eat theirs in peace. I have personal experience with this; if you’d like an example, I lost my ice cream to a hungry seagull!

Seagull in Whitby Harbour

4. They are risk of disease

Seagull faeces, as with any animal poop, carries an extensive range of diseases that can lead to illness, and with the increased number of seagulls, this could be a worry. You only have to look around the buildings and public areas in Whitby to see the increased seagull defecation, which brings with it the potential of disease. Furthermore, areas with large seagull populations are also at risk of attracting pests. Rats and mice, for example, are attracted by scraps seagulls leave behind, bringing a new range of health hazards and risks.

Seagull on Whitby beach

5. They are a risk to Seagulls themselves

So far, we have mainly concentrated on the harmful effects of seagulls on humans visiting Whitby. However, we also need to realise that our feeding them can harm the birds. This is because many of the foods that we are feeding seagulls contain ingredients that, to them, are toxic. For example, chocolate which seagulls, and me for that matter, have a hard time resisting, can even in tiny amounts be toxic. It has been found to cause diarrhoea, vomiting, increased heart rate, tremors, seizures, and even death to these magnificent birds. Other toxic foods include caffeine, fats, and salt.

Do Not Feed Seagulls Sign

6. They have a negative effect on tourism

It may seem like a bit of a dramatic statement to say that Whitby’s seagulls may be negatively affecting tourism. However, with around fifty seagull attacks being reported every year, and probably many more not, it has become a real problem and one that Whitby councillors are trying to address with campaigns. These include putting ‘do not feed the seagulls’ billboards around the harbour and piers and talking about introducing fines for those who continue to provide food for the gulls.

Have you ever had your food stolen or been attacked by a seagull in Whitby? If so, please share your story below in the comments.

9 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why You Should Never Feed The Seagulls In Whitby”

  1. had my fish stolen by a seagull from trenchers swooped down nothing i could do this was 2020 before covid but know i will eat inside which spoils things as there is nothing better than eating fish and chips walking along the harbour.

  2. We did see a young lady being attacked by loads of seagulls after her ice cream, she threw it down for them in the end. In Scarborough we saw two people deliberately feeding the gulls standing by a placard stating *Do not feed the gulls,*..people need to know they are dangerous.

  3. I was walking & eating a seafood platter. The seagull swooped down & grabbed the back of my hair so hard that I thought I was being attacked by an actual person, then it stole my king prawn. I binned the rest of the platter. I was quite shaken up afterwards.

  4. Fine don’t feed the gulls but don’t encourage a hate campaign against them, they have as much right to be at the coast as we do!
    Love nature ?

  5. Why is it that people consider gulls ( not seagulls) they are just gulls and they don’t have to live on the coast to be a nuisance. Let me explain
    kindly without them the streets would be filthy and they can be very gentle creatures too. If you be nice they’ll be nice to you !! Try it

  6. Had my entire hotdog stolen today as I was swarmed by about 6 seagulls at once this was as I turned away from the food stall. It terrified my kids and certainly wasn’t pleasant. We witnessed 3 other such attacks in the space of an hour so clearly it’s a worsening problem. Won’t be visiting Whitby for a long time

  7. They wouldn’t be inland if we weren’t so greedy! And fishing was still being done like it used to be this is a new problem lots of them die eating the wrong food…sludge even they are poisoned by it because there is nothing else to eat imagine cold hungry they are desperate! !


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