In 1981, thanks to the assistance and persistence of hundreds of interns and volunteers, and despite the predations of great blackbacked gulls, puffins finally were fledged on Eastern Egg, and the rest, as they say, is history. Within 20 years, more than three dozen puffin couples were nesting on Eastern Egg Rock, and still more had established nests on other islands in the area. Kress’s methods have received international attention, and his proven techniques have been used to reintroduce bird populations in remote parts of the globe. In 2001, Down East magazine singled out Kress to receive its prestigious annual Environmental Award.
How and Where to See Puffins
Puffin-watching, like whale-watching, involves heading offshore, so be prepared with warm clothing, rubber-soled shoes, a hat, sunscreen, binoculars, and, if you’re motion sensitive, appropriate medication.
Maine Audubon naturalists accompany tours aboard Hardy Boat Cruises, out of New Harbor, and Cap’n Fish’s, out of Boothbay Harbor, and excursion boats depart from Bar Harbor and Milridge. The best daily up-close-and-personal opportunities for puffin-watching along the Down East Coast—specifically, on Machias Seal Island—is with Bold Coast Charters (207/259-4484), which departs from Cutler May-August and costs about $100 pp. Weather permitting, you’ll be allowed to disembark on the 20-acre island.
If you can’t get afloat to see puffins, the next best thing is a visit to the Project Puffin Visitor Center (311 Main St., Rockland, 877/478-3346), where you can view exhibits, a film, and live video feeds of nesting puffins.
Stephen Kress’s Project Puffin has devised a clever way to enlist supporters via the Adopt-a-Puffin program. For a $100 donation, you’ll receive a certificate of adoption, vital statistics on your adoptee, annual updates, and a color photo.
Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Coastal Maine.