Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Appealing Puffin

I find it interesting how the things we may never see or touch are often most appealing. Through a study conducted by McAllister Opinion Research, focus groups in Prince Rupert, Queen Charlotte City, Port Hardy and Vancouver revealed that the Tufted Puffin is one of the most appealing species on our coast.

These hardy birds can only be found in their colonies on the Queen Charlotte Islands and the west coast of Vancouver Island which are all but inaccessible. The biggest colony is on Triangle Island, in the Scott Island group off the northern tip of Vancouver Island. After they breed and the young are able to fly, they all head out to the sea full time. Unless you are a fisherman, a seagull or a bust away log, you’ll probably never see one.

To my surprise I learned that for decades, Canada’s tufted puffins have failed to produce sizeable broods. Many scientists believe warmer ocean temperatures are to blame for this phenomena and studies show a relationship between warmer surface temperatures and poor reproductive performance. One study I saw stated: "Further and prolonged increases in ocean temperature could make Triangle Island, which contains the largest tufted puffin colony in Canada, unsuitable as a breeding site for this species." Yikes!

Triangle Island is one of the Scott Island group. While those islands have received a degree of protection, either as Provincial Park or ecological reserve, the ocean around them remains unprotected. The puffins point out pretty clearly the link between land and sea and how essential that there are marine protected areas.

I doubt I’ll ever encounter a breeding tufted puffin but knowing they are out there provides a tangible kind of satisfaction. Of course I’d feel better if I knew for certain they would always be there.

No comments:

Post a Comment