Researchers: Maine's puffin population is at risk

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July 25, 2013, 10:21 pm
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(NECN: Marnie MacLean) - They are cute and comical, and every summer thousands of tourists board boats to try and catch a glimpse of the puffin.

The birds that live most of their lives at sea return to Maine each summer to breed.

Restoring them to several islands off the coast of Maine has taken decades, and now researchers are concerned for their future. Last summer, many puffin chicks starved, since warmer ocean waters made it harder for puffin parents to find herring, and instead they caught butterfish, which were too big for the chicks to eat.

Researchers say more puffins washed up on shore over the winter, an indication that perhaps adult birds were also starving.

Stephen Kress, the director of the National Audubon Society's Seabird Restoration Program says it was a sign that climate change is having an impact.  

According to Kress, "The oceans are the lungs of the planet, if puffins can't survive on it, what effect will it have on everything else?"

Thankfully, the news is better this summer. Puffins are finding herring and bringing it back to their chicks. Kress calls it a good sign, but worry remains.   

Click here to learn more about Project Puffin and click here to watch a live puffin cam.

Tags: Marnie MacLean, puffins, puffin, Maine puffins, National Audubon Society Seabird Restoration Program, Project Puffin
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