News from the Natural World: Seagulls in London are accidentally ‘blacking up’ due to rising levels of air pollution.
The Platypus has captured photographs of seagulls across London ‘blacking up’. The birds were covered in a black/soot like colour with only their colourful beaks showing. The images began to circulate across the media like a wildfire. What the hell were the Seagulls thinking!? ‘Blacking up’ is a form of make up used predominantly by non-black performers to represent a caricature of a black person. The practice started back in the 1850s and was widespread in comedy, cinema and theatre. It is is now considered highly offensive, disrespectful, and moreover extremely racist.
Why were they continuing the horrendous process of ‘blacking up’? Finally, The Platypus managed to interview a local Seagull outside Earls Court Station, London, called Keith. A look of pure horror spread across his beak when we questioned him. We had completely missed the reason why Seagulls were blacking up. Keith turned and said;
“I’m not blacking up on purpose! Air pollution causes it! We’re flying around all day and we have pristine white feathers. We get covered in horrific amounts of pollution that turns our bodies black. London is one of the most polluted cities in Europe don’t you know!”
Seagulls not blacking up on purpose
Upon the revelation The Platypus decided to look into the facts. Almost 2,000 locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have levels of air pollution that exceed safe levels. The worst location for nitrogen dioxide pollution was London, followed by Leeds. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is one of the most harmful pollutant gases, irritating the lungs and potentially causing breathing difficulties. Road traffic is the cause of the majority of air pollution. Because London has some the heaviest and most congested roads in Europe, pollution is so high it has caused the Seagulls to turn black. In addition Earls Court Station where Keith the Seagull lives had the highest recorded pollution levels in the UK.
After a widespread media reconciliation Keith and the Seagull community have been forgiven. However, air pollution levels across London and the UK continue to rise. Unless air pollution falls it is only a matter of time before other birds are accidentally blacking up too.
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