Putting Puffins Back on the Map

Atlantic puffins live most of their lives at sea. In the spring and summer months, these sea birds leave their aquatic posts to gather in large numbers on coastal cliffs and offshore islands to reproduce. 

Atlantic Puffin 

While it’s well-understood that puffins gather in large numbers within their breeding colonies, surprisingly little is known of their life at sea or of their foraging habits when raising chicks. 

In an attempt to better understand puffin foraging behavior, seabird biologist Dr. Marie Martin of NOAA’s Woods Hole Laboratory visited the National Aquarium recently to test several GPS units on our puffins. 

GPS tagging is often used to study and track various species in their natural habitats without being intrusive. Recent advances in GPS technology have provided tags small enough to be used on these birds.
puffin tagging

Working with aquarium aviculturists, optimal tag placement sites and attachment methods were investigated. Using these techniques, Dr. Martin will travel to Maine this summer to tag puffins with identical GPS units for deployment into the Gulf of Maine.  Information gathered from this project will allow scientists to better understand puffin diets and the relationship between climate change, recent shifts in food fish populations, and declining productivity at several colonies. 

Dr. Martin’s work is in collaboration with the National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin, which works to understand the species and help reestablish historic breeding colonies on several offshore islands in Maine. 

For more information on Project Puffin and how you can help support Atlantic puffin conservation, click here.

Previous Post

Featured Stories

turtle-swimming-rehab Animal Rescue Update: Our First Release of the Season!

Today, National Aquarium Animal Rescue released 18 sea turtles into the Atlantic Ocean at Canaveral National Seashore in Florida! 

Read the full story

reusable-water-bottles New Year’s Resolutions for the Planet

Resolutions are a great way to start off a new year, and including the planet in your 2018 resolutions is even better! 

Read the full story

Related Stories

2016 Recap: Babies!

Published December 09, 2016

Puffins and Penguins: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Published August 23, 2016