Despite all the successful efforts by renowned ornithologist Steven Kress (and the Audubon’s Project Puffin) to get (and keep) a thriving population of Atlantic puffins on the eastern coast of the United States (Eastern Egg Rock off the coast of Maine), the puffin population is declining. These puffins previously have thrived on herring and hake, but as these fish are disappearing from the east coast–puffin parents are catching and bringing butterfish to their pufflings. The pufflings can’t swallow these fish as they are more round and difficult to eat, and sadly the pufflings are starving. If they can’t eat it, it is no good no matter how plentiful it is there. According to Kress1, it is climate change that is responsible for the loss of herring and hake and the abundance of inedible butterfish. If the parents can adapt their behavior and rip up the butterfish for the fledglings, they may just win out yet.
We at puffinpalooza are rooting on Steven Kress and Project Puffin—we hope they can find a way to help teach the puffin parents to tear the fish into edible pieces in order to help their little pufflings get the nutrition they need. If anyone can, they will! They did entice them to Easter Rock Island in the first place with decoys. Everyone, including them, thought it was a long shot, but it worked. So, here’s to thinking up the next best trick in helping our favorite pelagic bird!
- https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/02/butterfish-big-problem-for-little-puffins-eastern-egg-rock [↩]