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Published on Mar 29, 2014
The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve contains North America's largest colony of Atlantic Puffins (with over 260,000 mating pairs) and the second largest colony of Leach's Storm Petrels in the world (with over 620,000 pairs).
The Witless Bay Puffin & Petrel Patrol aims to rescue stranded chicks and return them safely to the ocean. The Puffin Patrol was started in 2008 by Juergen Schau with the assistance of youth in Witless Bay. Stranded puffin chicks are rescued and kept secure overnight and then safely returned to the ocean in the morning. In partnership with CPAWS-NL's Seabird Conservation and Habitat Improvement Program, the Patrol runs from August 20th to October 31st.
Artifical lighting influences the migration, foraging, reproduction and parental behavior of seabirds. Puffin and petrel chicks are attracted to artificial lighting on the coast, which causes them to fly towards the community, leaving them stranded and confused. Due to their inexperience, fledgling chicks are more likely to be attracted by the coastal lights. Newfoundland weather, with its frequent cloud-covered and foggy nights, enhances this problem. If you live near the ocean, consider turning off or dimming all unnecessary lights, or pointing lights downwards instead of pointing towards the ecological reserve. This will reduce the amount of artificial light visible to seabirds, making them less inclined to fly towards the community.