First steps taken to tackle puffin decline

© Tommy H. Hyndman

Photos from Project Puffin’s Puffarazzi are helping scientists build a better picture of what puffins feed their chicks.

Global puffin numbers have plummeted in recent years with scientists predicting that without help more than half of the population could disappear within the next generation.

This summer RSPB’s Project Puffin asked people to send photos of puffins carrying fish to try to understand what they are feeding their young.

More than 12,000 fish have been identified from photos and early results suggest some puffin colonies in the north of Scotland are struggling to find an abundant supply of large, nutritious fish which could be linked to their population declines.

The RSPB’s Project Puffin has taken the first steps in solving the mystery of why some colonies in the UK, including in Scotland, are in dramatic decline after scientists analysed more than 1400 photos sent in by the public, helping them to build a better picture of what these seabirds are feeding their chicks.

Over a third of the photos came from Scottish puffin colonies.

Coastlines around Scotland come alive each spring with the sight, sound and smell of puffins nesting and raising their young, known as pufflings.

With their bright orange bills and distinctive eye markings people from around the world visit puffin hotspots here, in the rest of the UK and in Ireland to photograph the bustling colonies.

Over 80 percent of the British and Irish population of puffins is found in Scotland. However, in recent years numbers have plummeted at some colonies, and experts estimate that without help more than half the global population will disappear within the next forty years.

Read the full article at RSPB Scotland.

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