In honor of the launch of our two Puffin Live Cams (Puffin Burrow and Puffin Loafing Ledge) today, here are some quick facts about the adorable seabirds keeping you transfixed to your computer screens!
- There are 4 species of puffins in the world: we are watching Atlantic Puffins.
- The name “puffin” originally meant “fatling”! Its scientific name, Fratercula artica, means “little brother of the north.”
- Puffins are known for their brightly colored beaks, but they only turn that familiar, vibrant shade of orange during breeding season to attract potential mates.
- Although puffins are not endangered, they nearly disappeared from Maine entirely in the early 1900s due to over-hunting for meat, feathers and eggs.
- In 1973, Dr. Stephen Kress, supported by the National Audubon Society and the Canadian Wildlife Service, spearheaded a massive effort to learn how to restore puffins to historic nesting islands in the Gulf of Maine. “Project Puffin” has been a resounding success: Eastern Egg Rock, which had seen the last of its puffin population in 1885, was already home to four nesting pairs in 1981, and by 2007 hosted over 90 nesting pairs.
- Besides being cute, puffins can also be helpful: they act as very good indicators of ocean health, particularly with regards to overfishing. Normally, puffins will bring large amounts of fish home to their chicks; a decrease in fish catches indicates overfishing in the area.