For years, puffins have eluded scientists’ attempts to discover the oddly lovable birds’ wintering grounds. Now, their cold-weather lair has been discovered.
Researchers with the National Audubon Society say that information from 19 locators show Maine’s Atlantic puffins spend the majority of winter about 200 miles southeast of Cape Cod, well offshore from New York and New Jersey, on the water, floating over submerged Atlantic canyons and sea mountains.
Adult puffins spend about eight months a year resting and sleeping on water. Young puffins are even more ocean going, spending at least the first two years of life on the water without ever stepping foot onto land.
The information is considered critical in order to protect the species, which almost disappeared due to hunting in the 1800’s. “The discovery […] provides another reason to protect these areas, and better understand what needs to be done to reverse population declines,” said Dr. Stephen Kress, Director of the Audubon Seabird Restoration Program.
There are currently a little more than 1,000 puffin pairs living on three islands off Maine’s coast.