For generations, children on Iceland’s Westman Islands have patrolled their villages during the late summer nights. Carrying flashlights and cardboard boxes, they scour the town, high and low, for pufflings—puffin chicks that are looking for the moonlight that will guide them to the ocean.
Instead, the chicks are confused by the town’s bright evening lights and get lost among the buildings, streets, and yards where there are no small fish for them to eat.
The children and their families volunteer for this midnight mission to rescue the birds. And after an early morning health check with scientists at the local aquarium, the pufflings are set free along the beach.
“Puffins live at sea and are well adapted to this lifestyle. They are excellent swimmers, using their wings to essentially ‘fly’ underwater while using their feet to control direction. They hunt a variety of small fish including herring, hake, capelin and sand lance. Puffins do not come to land outside of the breeding season, flying, swimming or riding the ocean surface throughout the year regardless of weather. They often feed far offshore and spend the entire winter at sea!”
Related reading: Puffin FAQs.
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