Protect the Puffins

Hello my friends! Today I wanted to share a petition from the National Audubon Society related to the Atlantic Puffin and other marine birds/creatures. It’s for the creation of of a Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean. I also wanted to spread the word about Project Puffin and why I believe a Marine National Monument is necessary.

You can read and sign the petition at Audubon’s website here.

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Atlantic Puffins (Image via http://www.public-domain-images.com)

Project Puffin is a restoration program that was created by the National Audubon Society in 1973 and lead by Dr. Stephen W. Kress. Historically there were 6 islands off the coast of Maine where Atlantic Puffins had established breeding colonies. Due to hunting of their eggs, feathers, and meat for around 300 years following the colonial age, there were only 2 islands used for breeding by the 1970s. The original goal of Project Puffin was to establish a breeding colony on Eastern Egg Rock Island.

Atlantic Puffins, like many seabirds, typically return to the same breeding grounds that they were born at. Between 1973 and 1986, 954 Atlantic Puffins were transplanted from Great Island, Newfoundland to Eastern Egg Rock Island when they were between 10-14 days old. Audubon biologists essentially took the place of Puffin parents and tagged them before they fledged. 914 chicks successfully fledged in this time. Transplanted Puffins started returning to Eastern Egg Rock Island in 1977. They were lured with wooden Puffin decoys and in 1981 4 pairs bred on the island. There are now 150 breeding pairs on Egg Rock. As usually with all bird conservation projects, it is still an ongoing and active mission.

But there was a mystery. When the Puffins would leave the breeding grounds, nobody knew where they were going. They would spend as much as 8 months at a mystery location. Learning where the Puffins go would be important so that these birds and other wildlife could be protected all year round. In 2009 birds were tagged with geolocators. There ended up being issues with the equipment, so in 2013, 26 new Puffins were fitted with geolocators.

In 2015, scientists were able to retrieve 19 devices and analyzed the data. They found that Atlantic Puffins spend the winter 200 miles east of Cape Cod, at the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts. There is still more research to be done, and as technology improves, scientist will be able to retrieve more precise data. In the meantime, making the Coral Canyons and Seamounts a permanent Marine National Monument will help protect the Puffin’s wintering grounds. There are many Marine National Monuments protecting areas in the Pacific Ocean, but there are none in the Atlantic Ocean. At the moment, the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts are pretty much undisturbed. By protecting them now, we can help make sure that this habitat is left untouched by fishing and oil industries so that all kinds of marine life can thrive.

Since it’s inception in 1973, Project Puffin has become much larger than just helping Puffins. It’s now a conservation program that benefits many other seabirds, such as terns and storm-petrels. As a result, there are now Puffins nesting on 5 Maine Islands and is also helping to restore Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. Please consider signing this petition to help marine animals stay protected. If you want to learn more about Project Puffin, check out their website:

Project Puffin

There is a book called Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock by Stephen W. Kress and Derrick Z. Jackson. You can also “adopt” a Puffin on their website.

Thank you all for reading this! Every person who can help with this effort is much appreciated. To quote Audubon’s website, “Spread the word. It’s the least you could do.”

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(Book image via projectpuffin.audubon.org)
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Author: BirdNation

I am an avid birder, teacher, and nature lover. I primarily birdwatch throughout New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

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