The Atlantic Puffins living on United Kingdom's remote Farne Islands are disappearing and nobody knows why. Over the last five years, their population has declined by almost one-third, from 55,674 to 35,500.
While the seabirds have been breeding well and food supply is plentiful, they don't seem to come back after migrating to warmer areas in the winter months.
The rate of decline is so alarming and puzzling that scientists have decided to fit a few of these cute, orange-beaked birds with GPS tracking devices.
The transmitters will be glued on to the bird's feathers in July, just before the start of the migration season. The tags are designed to fall off after a few days, giving the scientists enough time to figure out where these birds fly out to fish, how they get there and what they do after. The tagged puffins will also be weighed and measured to ensure that the transmitter does not affect their ability to feed themselves, or cause any other kind of distress.
In addition to the transmitters, the birds will also be fitted with a small, time-depth recorder, which will measure how often and how far they dive and, if they favor any particular sea temperature. Scientists believe this information may help them understand if the birds are being adversely effected by global warming and changes in sea temperatures.
The Atlantic or Common Puffin is the only species of Puffin to be found in the Atlantic Ocean. They feed largely by diving for fish, using their brightly colored beaks. While the male puffin is slightly larger, they both have tne same black and white coloring. Though puffins can be found in Northern Europe and Newfoundland, over 60 percent of the seabirds live in Iceland, where their numbers are not declining.
Hopefully scientists will be able to figure out soon why the Farne Island puffins are disappearing.