Norway Puffin numbers hit record low / News / The Foreigner

Norway Puffin numbers hit record low. The past nine or so years have seen almost all south Lofoten archipelago-born Puffins starve to death. Nordland County’s municipality of Røst is believed to have Europe’s largest prevalence of sea birds. The main species found is the Atlantic (or common) Puffin - Fratercula arctica. But while the area’s main industry is fishing, there is insufficient food to sustain the chicks. This year’s puffin numbers are at an all-time low.

puffin, rst, decline



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Norway Puffin numbers hit record low

Published on Wednesday, 1st July, 2015 at 23:19 under the news category, by Sarah Bostock and Michael Sandelson   .

The past nine or so years have seen almost all south Lofoten archipelago-born Puffins starve to death.

A puffin (Fratercula arctica)
This picture, taken at Látrabjarg on Iceland, shows an adult in breeding plumage.A puffin (Fratercula arctica)
Photo: Richard Bartz/Wikimedia Commons


Nordland County’s municipality of Røst is believed to have Europe’s largest prevalence of sea birds. The main species found is the Atlantic (or common) Puffin - Fratercula arctica.

But while the area’s main industry is fishing, there is insufficient food to sustain the chicks. This year’s puffin numbers are at an all-time low.

“We estimate that there are 289,000 pairs of puffins in Røst this breeding season,” senior NINA (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research) researcher Tycho Anker-Nilssen told Nationen.

Puffin colony numbers sank by 20.5 per cent in 2013, with a roughly 7 per cent decline between 2014 and 2015.

“Researchers have recently estimated national puffin pair numbers to be about 1.5 million,” he said.

This is the same figure as in 1980 on the island of Røst alone, with its current human population of 600. All the puffin chicks born on Røst in that year died in the first few weeks of life.

“Annual herring availability hasn’t been good for nine years, which results in poor ripple effects for puffins,” explained Mr Anker-Nilssen.

Climate change and warmer waters have also meant increased numbers of mackerel, which eat smaller-sized herrings.  

Other factors linked to the decreasing population include many consecutive years without nesting, interrupted breeding, and refraining from laying eggs.

“Puffins on Røst have not borne offspring since 2006. This means there have been eight consecutive years with zero puffin population growth here,” he remarked.

The female puffin only lays one egg a year, in late April or early May. Both parents incubate the egg for a period of between 36 and 45 days.

They share feeding duties until the chick is ready to fledge, with the period ranging from 34 to 60 days, area and year-dependent.

(Additional source: RSPB).

Further reading:

An EU Red List of Birds study highlights the declining status of some 500 species of sea birds.



Published on Wednesday, 1st July, 2015 at 23:19 under the news category, by Sarah Bostock and Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: puffin, rst, decline.





  
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