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article imageU.S. Atlantic puffin population at-risk according to CBC

By John Kelly Smith     Jun 3, 2013 in Environment
The Atlantic puffin population is at risk in the United States, and there are signs the seabirds are in distress in other parts of the world, says CBC.
The Atlantic population of puffin is declining, both in adults and fledglings, as major colonies in Maine and other areas are seeing major drop in numbers.
In actuality, the seabird is showing signs of failing health in other parts of the globe as well. With every passing day, shifting fish populations cause ocean temps to rise and this means the comical-looking seabirds lose weight and die of starvation. In mid-2012, Maine’s largest puffin colonies plummeted as dozens of birds were found dead on the shores of Bermuda and Massachusetts six months ago, likely of starvation.
Whether or not puffins will continue to wash up on shores remain to be seen. However, there are plenty of signs that suggest puffins and a number of other seabirds are in trouble. The problem is so great that the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has dispatched scientists from their Northeast Fisheries Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts to look at how the fish populations are affecting the puffin activity and productivity.
For many years, the puffin has been considered the poster child of a successful seabird restoration. As it stands right now, 5.5 to 7.5 million live from Maine to Northern Russian. But from the late 1800’s to 1901, Maine was down to one pair of puffins due to settlers hunting them for eggs, feathers and food. Only 2,000 presently live in the state of Maine.
Steve Kress, the National Audubon Society’s director for seabird restoration, has worked tirelessly over the last four decades to restore and help maintain Maine’s puffin population. These seabirds live at sea for most of their lives and will come to shore for breeding purposes. When chicks hatch, they will stay ashore for 40 days and they will make their way to the sea.
Kress says that die-offs during winter are a huge issue. Scotland suffered 2,500 known deaths in the 2012 winter and 40 more in Massachusetts. Even Bermuda saw a few. The problem is keeping accurate numbers is trying to figure out how many died and did not wash ashore. Kress states that for every puffin that comes ashore, hundreds probably never make it.
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