June 28, 2012
New Puffin Web Cams Set Up On Maine Island
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The very photogenic Atlantic Puffin is now making its Internet debut, thanks to a new project set out by explore.org.
The philanthropic media organization put up multiple HD cameras at Maine's Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge to show off the everyday life of these seabirds.
The project allows the Internet audience to jump into a live-streaming video, showing puffins as they court, breed, and preen around the remote Seal Island.
The new Puffin Cams allows viewers to get a real-time glimpse into a puffin burrow, where a pair of lifelong partners are incubating their egg and will soon be bringing a new puffin into the world.
Another camera set up by explore.org, in partnership with Audubon, will provide onlookers the opportunity to watch the "loafing ledge," which is a massive boulder where the birds engage in "billing." Billing is a ritual of gentle beak rubbing when they begin courting.
Puffins are not the only bird species that will be seen on the loafing ledge camera. The seabirds will also be joined by Razorbills and smaller Black Guillemots.
“The Puffin Cams have a mesmerizing effect that we believe will help people escape the stresses of everyday life and provide a positive benefit that will carry over when they return to their daily obligations,” Charles Annenberg Weingarten, founder of explore.org and VP of the Annenberg Foundation, said in a press release.
Puffins were wiped out on Seal Island back in the late 1800s by overhunting and military activity. However, the seabirds began to find a resurgence in 1984 after Audubon Project Puffin Director and Vice President, Dr. Stephen Kress began reintroducing the birds from Newfoundland to the island.
Kress used mirrors, sound recordings and decoys to encourage the relocated puffins to nest in an attempt to make the seabirds thrive once again on the island.
Thanks to the efforts by Kress, now more than 550 pairs of puffin are nesting on the island, making it the largest Maine puffin colony.
Kress' methods have helped restore 13 seabird nesting sanctuaries along the Maine coast, and have inspired similar projects with at least 49 seabirds species in 14 countries, according to explore.org.
Puffins face few predators on Seal Island, but Great Black-backed Gulls and Peregrine Falcons are seen as their greatest predators at the colonies.
The seabirds feed underwater by diving as deep as 200 feet in search of small fish and crustaceans like shrimp.
“We´re excited to give people a window into this wonderful world of seabirds, and we hope to inspire viewers everywhere to take actions that improve the planet for birds and people,” Dr. Kress said in a press release.
You can adopt a Maine puffin at www.projectpuffin.org.
To learn about puffin behavior and hear their sounds, go to www.projectpuffin.org/PuffinQuestions.html.