Saturday, February 27, 2016

Puffins Off the Coast of New Jersey?

Photo: Stephen Kress

Where do puffins spend the winter? Maybe some of them spend it off the coast of New Jersey.

Researchers have been uncertain about where Maine's Atlantic puffins spend the winter. New findings from the National Audubon Society using locators on the birds show that at least some of them winter several states away near New Jersey and New York.

Though an article on says the birds winter off NJ, the study tracked the birds to an area over underwater canyons and sea mountains on the U.S. Continental Shelf, about 200 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Puffins are seabirds that are less comfortable and at home on land and in the air. In the spring breeding season and summer, they are in coastal areas of Maine but leave for open ocean waters in the autumn and winter.

Puffins are a threatened species and data about their movements are needed to inform conservation efforts. In 2015, scientists and conservationists began advocating for a Marine National Monument around the coral canyons and seamounts near Cape Cod. If approved, it would be the first marine monument in the U.S. side of the Atlantic, and would protect the region against potential future threats like dredging by fishing vessels, undersea mining, and oil drilling.

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