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Puffins are cool! With those big colorful beaks, dark soulful eyes & a penguin-like appearance, it's hard not to like them. Puffins can typically be found in the very chilly waters of the North Atlantic, in places like Iceland and Norway. Lucky for us then that not far from Boothbay Harbor is the southernmost Atlantic Puffin colony in all of North America – Eastern Egg Rock.
In Maine, Puffins are rare, and are actually listed as a Threatened Species. On Eastern Egg Rock, however, there are about 90 nesting pairs, along with perhaps a thousand pairs of Terns and other unusual seabirds. During the summertime, Puffins come ashore to raise their young, and the female lays her egg in a crevice under the tumble of boulders that line the shoreline of Eastern Egg Rock Once the chicks are full grown – usually by mid-August – all the Puffins leave their nesting island and fly out to sea to spend the winter. And they don't come back to land til next April.
A Puffin-watching cruise is kind of like an ocean-going treasure hunt… you just never know what's going to show up! As we travel through Boothbay Harbor and search for all the marvelous sea creatures which call this area their home, seals often surface near the boat, or can be found sunning themselves on the rocks. A loon flies by. A Minke Whale surprises everyone with its sheer size and bulk. And, of course there are lighthouses, which we know as permanent treasures here on the New England coast.
As the boat gets to Eastern Egg Rock, everyone is up and looking around for those pint-sized little Puffins. We scan the rocks and the skies, and then someone shouts, and lo and behold there is a group of Puffins sitting in the water, bobbing up and down, perhaps 50 or 60 feet from the boat. More fly by, and soon someone spots a bunch sitting on the granite boulders along shore.
We slowly circle the seven-acre island once or twice, and dozens of large Eider Ducks spring from the water into flight. Laughing Gulls cry out with their loud, cackling vocalizations. And more puffins and their funny little cousins, the Black Guillemots, whiz past us, going about 40 miles an hour.
When its time to start back, the excitement on the boat is still high. Success! We saw a bird that very few Mainers have ever seen – the ocean-going, charismatic Atlantic Puffin…
~ Peter Salmansohn, Education Coordinator, Seabird Restoration Program
~ Stephen Kress, Director, Project Puffin
To learn more about the amazing puffins, visit Audubon' Project Puffin Visitor Center
See at first hand the National Audubon Society's success in reestablishing a Puffin Colony on Eastern Egg Rock. Truly a magnificent "Seafari" for all nature lovers with seals, blue heron, an occasional whale and other coastal wildlife along the way.
June - 11, 18, 24
July - Late August -
Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays @ 10:00am,
tuesdays @ 1:00 pm
2 1/2 Hour Tour
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