By The Canadian Press
MACHIAS SEAL ISLAND, N.B. – Only 12 per cent of puffin chicks born on Machias Seal Island this year survived — leaving scientists to question whether climate change may be to blame.
University of New Brunswick researcher Tony Diamond says the survival rate for the chicks on the tiny island, off the coasts of New Brunswick and Maine, has averaged 59 per cent over the last 22 years, but this year was the lowest on record.
He said everything was fine this summer until the second week of July, when the food supply seemed to run out.
Diamond says the adults were returning with very little food — only small fish and shrimp.
He says the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99 per cent of the world’s oceans and that’s going to have all kinds of affects on a cold water system.
Diamond says puffins often live more than 30 years, so it’s difficult to say what effect a couple of bad years will have on the future population.