16 Atlantic pufflings and two adult puffins have been released back to the wild after being rehabilitated at the SEA LIFE Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary for care and rehabilitation over the winter.
The releasing has been a big milestone for some of the Sanctuary's smallest residents, with the birds having been brought in for rehabilitation in late 2020.
Most of the birds had been found oiled or otherwise not healthy enough to be rehabilitated and released in time for the imminent Atlantic puffin migration, as their fellow Atlantic Puffins, which nest seasonally in Iceland, were due to migrate away for the year.
The animal care team worked tirelessly for months over the winter to oil clean and rehabilitate 39 birds, waiting for some to moult their damaged feathers, and for others to re-learn how to swim and get their muscles back in shape.
The remaining pufflings are continuing their rehabilitation at the Sanctuary, where the team hope to release them over the coming weeks.
“Our animal care team really worked hard to rehabilitate each individual bird this winter. The team studied each bird day in and out, tracking their weights, their waterproofing and their feeding habits. We are all so proud to see the puffins heading back to the wild now they are rehabilitated!”Audrey Padgett General Manager, the SEA LIFE Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary
Atlantic Puffins are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list and face various threats in the wild, in particular their food levels depleting due to warming seas and overfishing.
“There are lots of things you can do to help puffins, even from home. In particular, check that any seafood you eat is sustainable, limit your carbon footprint, donate or even come and volunteer with us, the Puffling Patrol!”Audrey Padgett General Manager, the SEA LIFE Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary
The team are planning to head back out to the nearby puffin colonies again soon to release another group of the pufflings.