SEAFRONT traders are adamant staring at seagulls will NOT stop them stealing chips... after scientists offered the advice to daytrippers.

It come as researchers from University of Exeter said staring at the birds makes them less likely to take food.

Martin Richardson, 53, owner of Happidrome Arcade, Marine Parade, Southend, is having none of it. He said: “Have you seen the size of the herring gulls in Southend?! They are like eagles!

“I did see this and it made me chuckle, if you were approached by a huge herring gulls and it was a choice between you and your chips – it’d be the chips every time!

“Staring at these gulls is not going to put them off at all. As traders we make sure we don’t leave food around and we go out and clear the tables. That is our method to deal with seagulls.

“People do often say how they are surprised that we don’t have an issue with seagulls in Southend.”

Residents also said they wouldn’t fancy their chances against some of the huge gulls along the south Essex coast.

Christine Howard, 44, from Southend said: “I wouldn’t want a staring match with a huge seagull. No way.

“It wouldn’t be worth it, I would be worried about being attacked. It seems a bit laughable to me, I wouldn’t be hanging around at all.”

University of Exeter researchers put a bag of chips on the ground and tested how long it took herring gulls to approach when someone was watching them.

They compared this to how long it took when the person looked away.

According to the university study, on average the gulls took 21 seconds longer to approach the food while they were being stared at.

The researchers attempted to test 74 gulls, but most flew away or would not approach.