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Portland, Maine

Starvation threatens Atlantic puffins

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In the Gulf of Maine, the Atlantic puffin population has been dying of starvation and losing body weight, possibly because of shifting fish populations as ocean temperatures rise, according to scientists. The survival rates of fledglings on Maine’s two largest puffin colonies plunged last summer, and puffins are in declining health at the largest puffin colony in the gulf, on a Canadian island about 10 miles off eastern Maine. Dozens of emaciated birds were found washed ashore in Massachusetts and Bermuda this past winter, likely victims of starvation. The situation has drawn the attention of scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, who are looking at how shifting fish populations can affect the productivity of puffins and Arctic terns.

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