Puffin Tagging Conservation Project
The Zoological Society of London, in collaboration with University College Cork, are studying Puffins in Ireland to reveal where they spend their time outside of the breeding season and identify areas key to the survival of the species.
The Atlantic puffin is on the Amber list of UK birds of Conservation Concern due to its localised breeding population and the conservation status of the European population has been assessed as unfavourable. Although the status of the Puffin population of Ireland is largely unknown, estimates of Puffin numbers at Skellig Michael show a marked reduction. The reasons behind these changes in abundance are unclear and could be caused by any number of factors from climate change to availability of fish prey.
Puffins are a migratory species, and until recently, their overwintering distribution was unknown. Recent studies employing geolocator devices and satellite telemetry have shed some light on the distribution and movements of Puffins throughout the year
In July 2012, 25 Puffins from the Skellig Michael colony (a small island 12km off the coast of Kerry, Southwest Ireland), were fitted with geolocators. The geolocators, weighing just 1.5g, will record the location of puffins throughout the year and will be retrieved in July 2013. The data will provide essential information on their migratory routes, potential interactions with fisheries and advise the management of habitats essential for the success of the Puffin population of Ireland.