Over the last few years I have increasingly wanted to see Fractercula arctica (Atlantic puffin) in the wild, and lucky for me I married a Scotsman who comes from a town very near to one of the largest puffin colonies off the coast of eastern Scotland! So, this past April I was lucky enough to get to visit Bass Rock and its surrounding islands to view these tiny migrators and other migratory birds (more on these in a future post). Atlantic puffins are incredible little creatures, because while tiny (only 25-29 cm tall!), they have large ranges and extend from Algeria to the United States of America. Recently the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) determined that Atlantic puffins have heightened extinction risk, shifting from Least Concern (lowest risk of extinction ) to Vulnerable (high risk of extinction) over the last three years. This is a striking change in conservation status raising concerns over the long-term persistence of the species, and heightened awareness about the need for greater action to reduce human pressures (example: climate change and fishing) on these species. I hope my recent visit to see puffins, isn’t my last, and that actions are taken to help this species rebound from extinction risk.
For more information about puffins and to access fun and informative activities check out Puffinpalooza! What a great site!
Haiku and photo: Steph Januchowski-Hartley