Posted 24th May 2018 by Peter Byrne
There are fears that the Farne Islands' important habitat of puffins could be set to die out, as their numbers have rapidly plummeted
This has prompted fears that the birds could be set to die out completely within the next 100 years. National Trust rangers conduct a census on the birds every five years, with the latest findings not painting a good future for them.
Their numbers have declined by 12 per cent on average in comparison to the 2013 census, with one island falling by 42 per cent.
Puffins have been recorded on the islands dating back to 1939, at which point there were 3,000 breeding pairs recorded. Every census until 2008 showed there had been a steady increase in pairs, but by 2008 the numbers had fallen by a third, decreasing from 55,674 to 36,835.
This is primarily attributed to the impacts of climate change.
The numbers did pick up according to the 2013 census, which reported 29,962 breeding pairs but it seems this has not continued.
Tom Hendry, a ranger, said: "Initial findings are concerning. Numbers could be down due to stormy or wetter weather as well as changes in the sand eel population, which is one of their staple foods."
"So far we’ve surveyed four of the eight islands where we conduct the census. Figures from the two largest islands are vastly contradictory, with numbers on Brownsman 42% down, while recordings on Staple show an 18% increase. We will now do some further investigations as to why this might be."
"Predictions have been made that within the next 50 to 100 years these stunning birds will have completely died out on the Farne Islands.”
"The monitoring of puffin numbers worldwide is therefore really important to discover whether the species can continue to survive."