The hundreds of dead, emaciated puffins showing up on this isolated, wind-swept scratch of land in the Pribilof Islands in the middle of the North Pacific suddenly has scientists worried—about the population of this white-masked, orange-beaked seabird, but also about what their deaths may portend for the normally productive Bering Sea.A stretch of water that provides more seafood than any other in North America saw such record-warm temperatures earlier this year that scientists suspect the ocean food web there has shifted. That could spell big downturns for marine life, from seabirds and fur seals to salmon, crab and the $1 billion-a-year pollock fishing industry that provides flaky white filets for everything from McDonald’s fish sandwiches to frozen fish sticks.
“The Bering Sea has been off-the-charts warm,” said Nate Mantua, an ecologist at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, California. “We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re in uncharted territory. We’re in the midst of an extraordinary time.”
Check out previous post on the wonderful Explore cam that brought puffins into your home HERE.
Will the beautiful puffin be an early member of the 6th Mass Extinction Event?