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More than 80 Percent of Puffin Chicks Die

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More than 80 Percent of Puffin Chicks Die

Puffins in Iceland

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

After initial reports of a successful nesting season—unusually many puffins laid eggs and unusually many chicks were hatched—it has now turned out that 83 percent of puffin hatchlings in the Vestmannaeyjar islands off Iceland’s south coast have died due to lack of food.

“After mid-July and until the first week of August the nesting collapsed. Eighty-three percent of hatchlings were either abandoned or killed in a short period of time. It’s the usual reason: lack of food,” ornithologist Erpur Snær Hansen told Vísir.

Life has been rough for the Vestmannaeyjar emblem bird in recent years with nesting failing season after season due to lack of sand eels in the ocean around the islands.

Usually at this time of year, puffin chicks are becoming fledged. They lose their way and fly into the Heimaey town where they’re rescued by local children. No puffin chick has been seen on the streets or in the gardens of Heimaey this summer.

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