Bay of Fundy’s Machias Seal Island offers puffin-watchers paradise

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Last Updated: Monday, August 24, 2009 | 4:28 PM AT 

Atlantic puffins lure birdwatchers, naturalists and photographers to Machias Seal Island, a migratory bird sanctuary in the Bay of Fundy.Atlantic puffins lure birdwatchers, naturalists and photographers to Machias Seal Island, a migratory bird sanctuary in the Bay of Fundy. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)

Machias Seal Island, a remote bird sanctuary in the Bay of Fundy, provides birdwatchers, naturalists and photographers with a rare glimpse of one of Canada’smost popular seabirds.

The rocky island, located 18 kilometres southwest of Grand Manan, serves as a breeding site for thousands of birds each year, including Atlantic puffins.

About 1,300 pairs of puffins visit Machias Seal Island during the spring and summer to breed and nest.

Puffins, with their striking orange beaks, and matching orange webbed feet, lure bird enthusiasts to travel to great lengths to see them.

Only about eight hectares in area, Machias Seal Island is a designated migratory bird sanctuary, maintained by the Canadian Wildlife Service, so access is restricted.

Sea Watch Tours, out of Grand Manan, is the only Canadian company with permission to land. It offers tours six days a week between late June and early August, weather permitting.

However, it can only take 15 people a day, so reservations are required for anyone who wants to catch a glimpse of the puffins.

Other nesting birds that attract visitors to the island include razorbill auks and common murres.

The trip from Seal Cove Wharf takes about two hours and is not for the faint of stomach when the water is rough.

Occasional sightings of other birds, such as shearwaters, Wilson storm petrels, phalaropes, jeagers, northern gannet, black guillemots and eider ducks help pass the time. Passengers may also see seals, harbour porpoises, and whales en route.

Machias Seal Island lighthouse is the first signal to visitors that they’re approaching the island.

Read entire article here: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2009/08/24/f-nb-machias-puffins.html


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