These past few years, the population of Atlantic puffins has continued decreasing, reaching dramatic cotes (more than 30% of them have disappeared).
According to the recent discoveries published in the Marine Biology journal, the cause might be represented by the conditions in the North Sea.
With the help of geo-location, scientists have managed to track down puffins from the Isle of May National Reserve all the way to the North Sea, where the biggest colony of puffins lives.
Professor Mike Harris, who has studied puffins for more than 35 years, argues that the 25,000 puffins that live in the North-East of Britain head out to the ocean during winter instead of staying in the North Sea as previously thought.
Therefore, their heading out to the Atlantic explains a big part of the so-thought decrease in number of the puffins’ population. These “trips” into the Atlantic might last from one to four months, between the breeding seasons and it was scientifically proven that more than three quarters of the birds are subject to this change of location.
The new technology developed especially for tracking down puffins weights about 1.5g and was used during the 2007/2008 winter on 50 birds that departed from the Isle of May National Nature Reserve.
That proved that the feared decrease in number of the puffins’ population recorded in the beginning of 2008 was somehow balanced by the discovery of two new colonies. The main causes for puffins’ death remain, though, lack of food and poor winter conditions.