Puffins need your help

The "clowns of the sea" are considered vulnerable to extinction, yet are still being hunted in large numbers.

About the problem

Why are Atlantic puffins in danger?

The global population of the Atlantic puffin is in decline. Warming waters, overfishing and pollution have all played a factor in the lovable animal receiving a Vulnerable status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Yet in Iceland, which outwardly celebrates the species as a national icon, hunters continue to kill hundreds of thousands of puffins annually with little oversight. The country's traditions and the financial incentive of selling puffin meat to restaurants motivate the hunts.

Meanwhile, off the southern coast of Iceland, a more constructive ritual involving the Atlantic puffin takes place. On the island of Heimaey, children go on "Puffling Patrol", to help puffin chicks who fly into town after being disoriented by the island's lights. The wayward birds are then taken to the local aquarium, where they are measured and tagged, before being guided back to the water.

Unless current trends are reversed, both traditions will be in jeopardy. It's all too familiar a story for Atlantic puffins, which were virtually exterminated by hunters in Maine by the turn of the twentieth century, before Steve Kress led a restoration program to right the wrongs humans had inflicted on the species. This time, it's Iceland's responsibility to help stem the extinction of an animal species loved the world over.

Rescuing puffins

"Puffling Patrol", a tradition worth keeping.

How to help

In under a minute, you can help make a difference by signing a Care2 petition to protect the Atlantic puffin. Restaurants selling puffin to tourists are also a driving force for hunters looking to make a profit. Avoid establishments that serve puffin and stand against travel bloggers who promote eating puffin.

End Icelandic puffin hunts

Tell Iceland's president Jóhannesson to protect their puffins, not kill them.

  Sign the petition

Get puffins off the menu

Vulnerable seabirds belong in the wild, not on dinner plates.

  Sign the petition

Adopt a puffin

Help Project Puffin in their effort to protect Maine's puffin colonies.

  Adopt a puffin


Puffin Preservation Society rehabilitates puffins in Iceland.



Watch videos of puffins being puffins.

Watch: Curious Puffin Befriends a Tourist | National Geographic

Puffins are inquisitive, trusting animals, as this photographer found out.

Rescued Puffin Spoiled By New Mom | The Dodo

Mundi, an injured and blind puffin, who was adopted and nursed back to health.

First Time Cute Baby Puffin Sees World | World Beneath Your Feet | BBC

The first time a Farne Islands puffling sees the world

'Project Puffin' Examines One Success Story In Bringing A Species Back From The Brink

Jim Braude and Derrick Jackson discuss Project Puffin and bringing Atlantic puffins back to Maine.


The latest Atlantic puffin photos from our Instagram feed. Follow @savepuffins to see new content the moment it's posted!

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