‘Endangered’ Puffin Numbers Holding Up In Scilly

A Scilly puffin. Photo by Steven Burbidge.

A Scilly puffin. Photo by Steven Burbidge.

There’s concern for puffin numbers across the UK after the seabird was added to a conservation organisation’s ‘red list.’

But the good news for now is that the situation in Scilly isn’t so severe.

Dwindling numbers nationally had led the International Union for Conservation of Nature to warn that puffins were endangered.

But the decline in the South West appears to have been halted following rat culls on their Lundy Island breeding ground in the Bristol Channel.

Jaclyn Pearson of the Seabird Recovery Project says Westcountry conservationists are doing the best they can and puffin numbers in Scilly have stabilised.

Jaclyn says the number of breeding pairs in Scilly has remained between 167 and 174 since 1999, although they seem to be moving from Annet to Mincarlo. The reason for that is currently unknown.

Nevertheless, the small number of puffin pairs in Scilly illustrates how special these birds are.

Jaclyn says there’s no clear answer why global numbers of puffins have fallen, although theories include pollution like plastics as well as changes in the population of sand eels, which they feed on, caused by warming seas.

And while some of the issues can only be solved globally, Jaclyn feels that all islanders and visitors can play a part in conservation.

She hopes the recent charging for plastic bags in shops will discourage people from using them and that decision could help puffins and seabirds in general.