News

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Puffin with sandeels in beak

The people-powered Puffarazzi

Our citizen science project Puffarazzi is back and once again needs your help to find out more about one of our best loved seabirds, the puffin! As before, visitors to puffin colonies around the UK in spring and summer are being asked to join the Puffarazzi by submitting photographs of these colourful seabirds with fish in their bills.

The project is also asking for historical photos to be submitted to aid conservation efforts. All these images will help scientists learn more about what puffins are feeding their chicks. These birds are in serious trouble with their numbers plummeting in former strongholds in the UK and Europe and the species is now classed as vulnerable to extinction. This project aims to find out the causes of these UK declines, which are likely to be related to a reduction in food availability caused by climate change.

The public response in 2017 was incredible; 602 people joined the Puffarazzi and sent in 1,402 photos from almost 40 colonies. The photos have helped scientists identify areas where puffins are struggling to find the large, nutritious fish needed to support their pufflings. They revealed variations around the UK with some areas having far smaller fish for the puffins to feed on.

Our scientists are now looking to build on this knowledge with one big difference this time round. Rather than just asking for current photos, scientists also need snaps of puffins with fish in their bills, but from any year.
We know that many people have been inspired by the plight of these plucky little seabirds and want to help them. By becoming part of the Puffarazzi, you'll be filling in key knowledge gaps currently holding back puffin conservation efforts and will help shape future advice for government on how best to safeguard our beloved puffins.

Provided the year and place of an image is known, it can be submitted; there's even a way for pre-digital era photos to be included! These images will help scientists to track how puffin food sources have changed over time.

Images can be submitted at the Project Puffin Website: