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Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic Puffin

Fratercula arctica

Atlantic Puffin Atlantic Puffin Atlantic Puffin Atlantic Puffin Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic puffins have a distinctive large, triangular red-orange bill with a blue-gray base and yellow ridge. The top of a puffin’s head, neck, back and wings are black, while its cheeks are pale gray and underparts white. Puffins have bright orange legs and webbed feet. They are adept swimmers.

Puffins vs. Penguins

Puffin Vs. Penguin Graphic

Native to the Northern Hemisphere, puffins are adept at both swimming and flying! Native to the Southern Hemisphere, penguins have evolved to swim, not fly.

The mix-up is understandable—both puffins and penguins are black-and-white sea birds, have an upright posture and are good swimmers. They both have names that start with "p" and end with "n." But, the similarities between them pretty much end there.

See More on Their Differences

Did You Know?

Puffins are sometimes called the "parrots of the sea."


Atlantic puffins eat several types of fish including hake, capelin, sand eels and herring. At the Aquarium, they are fed silversides, smelt and capelin.


Atlantic puffins are typically about 12 inches tall.


Atlantic puffins inhabit a geographic range from the coast of New England to Iceland and the British Isles. They spend most of their lives at sea but return to land to breed, with about 60 percent of the world's population nesting in Iceland.

Population Status

Atlantic puffin populations have declined dramatically in many areas of its range, due in part to human activities. The Atlantic puffin's conservation status is currently listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Aquarium regularly participates in National Audubon Society's Project Puffin, a conservation program that restores habitat for puffins and other seabirds.


The great black-backed gull is a natural predator of the Atlantic puffin. Introduced predators include foxes and rats.

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