Puffins Numbers Promising - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Puffins Numbers Promising

Published August 6, 2015

Photos by
Magnus Manske/Wikimedia Commons

Puffins around Iceland have been increasing their numbers, but it is still too soon to say if the population is making a recovery.

RÚV reports that the increase has been seen in all popular puffin nesting areas except for the Westman Islands, where numbers are still very low. However, puffin numbers in the north and east of Iceland are doing exceptionally well.

While the news is encouraging, ornithologist Erpur Snær Hansen cautions that it is still too soon to make a definitive statement about puffin numbers.

“This is the biggest change [in numbers] that we’ve seen since we assessed the country in 2010,” he told reporters. “But it’s too soon to call this anything other than just one good year.”

As reported, puffin numbers have been dangerously low for a long time now, to where Erpur has warned that even a very brief three-day hunting season for the birds is too much.

The current state of the puffin population is due to a cyclical “warming up period” that happens around Iceland every 70 years or so.

“This decreases herring populations, which is the main source of food for puffins,” Erpur explained at the time. “We are experiencing one of these warming-up periods now, in addition to temperature changes in the sea caused by human activity. But the oceans should cool again by 2030, so it’s a question of whether the puffin can hang in there until then.”

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