Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Worst year on record for puffin chicks at Gulf of Maine's largest colony

Atlantic puffins have been facing challenges as the Gulf of Maine has continued to warm in the past decade. The birds, which breed in several colonies off the Maine coast, must find fish to bring back to their chicks in their burrows. If the right food can't be found, the chicks will starve.

In yesterday's Portland Press Herald,  reported the sad news that the largest colony in the Gulf of Maine -- at Machias Seal Island -- this summer experienced the worst such food famine in the 31 years researchers have been tracking the birds there. The smaller colonies off midcoast Maine -- including Eastern Egg Rock -- fared better.

For broader context, we covered the puffins' problems in 2012-2015 in "Mayday", the Press Herald's six-part series on climate change in the Gulf of Maine, which was a finalist for this year's Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

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