Puffin’s bright beaks and their recognizable colors may give you an impression that they belong to tropical lands, but they prefer coastal waters and cliffs in Alaska. However, due to the enhancement of the effects of climate change, they may lose their home and their food supplies.
The Plos One journal published a recent study, and according to the results, it may seem that not only that puffins are leaving their home, but there has been a mass die-off of puffins in Alaska.
The study started when Timothy Jones decided to pack his bags and go with his team for a few months in Alaska and monitor this area in 2016. During this expedition, they managed to find an unusual number of birds that were washed up on the beach, but the majority of them were tufted puffins.
This study group recovered around 350 carcasses and estimated that up to 8,800 birds died in that period only.
Besides this more than troubling data, the other part of their report has shown even worse and worrying pieces that prove that climate change is severely affecting our wildlife.
Many birds found on the shores of St Paul’s Island, were found severely emaciated, and most of them showed signs of stress. The puffins tend to express their anxiety by molting their feathers, and this is the condition they were found in, which is more than worrying.
The scientists noted that during the warmer periods in Alaska, the sea temperature is often disrupted, but until now, the animal life was able to manage with their food supply successfully.
However, due to these changes, the food chain is wholly disturbed, putting animals in a tough position in which they have to change their life habits and look for food elsewhere. However, for most of them moving is not an option.
When it comes to this case notably, warmer sea temperatures resulted in lower numbers of zooplankton in this area, which affected all inhabitants of the area.
Zooplankton is usually eaten by fish, which are in turn consumed by the puffins. The disruption of the zooplankton population was a snowball of issues that are happening to the whole animal population found at these shores. What is most likely to happen is that predator fish will migrate from this area, searching for the new food supply, causing further devastation effects down this food chain.
Timothy Jones added that seabirds are going to be affected the most due to the speed of climate changes. Those animals used to be resilient to the effects of climate change, but since things are clearly getting out of our hands, we could be looking forward to fast decay of these species.
In his concluding remarks, he stated that we could not count on the resilience of any species, even though the birds have shown excellent abilities to evolve, and are known for their long-term viability; we cannot hope that this is going to change if we don’t do something very soon.
Lastly, he added that Alaska has been particularly affected by climate change and that their authorities announced that March 2019 was the warmest month ever. The Arctic state is one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth, and that combination of these factors should be the one main concern of the public interest.