The first puffin chick of the summer arrived at the Natural History and Fish Museum of the Westman Islands yesterday, which is considered very late. The chick only weighed 212 grams but was rather frisky.
A grown puffin. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
Usually chicks must weigh 300 grams before they are released and are held onto if they weigh less than 200 grams, Morgunbladid reports.
“It doesn’t look good but it’s best to wait before making any statements,” said Erpur Snaer Hansen, director of the ecology division at the South Iceland Nature Institute of this summer’s puffin hatching season.
He said the first two weeks of September will reveal how successful the puffin hatching was. “However, approximately 80 percent of nests seem to have been neglected this year,” Hansen said, adding that every puffin hole that was monitored was empty.
The reason for the collapse of the Westman Islands’ puffin stock is lack of food. Hansen said it is unknown what is causing decrease in sandeels on which the puffins feed.
“There are various theories. The ocean temperature has increased and some believe that bacteria could have emerged after a certain temperature threshold. The volcanic eruption might also have had an impact. It is difficult to say,” Hansen stated.
“But many things are happening in the ocean here and it appears to be an ecological revolution. It can be researched to some extent but there are so many variables that have to be measured at the same time,” he added.
Click here to read more about the condition of the Icelandic puffin stock.