Coastal puffin cruise sets sail Sunday

Posted July 29, 2010, at 10:21 p.m.

PORT CLYDE, Maine — Those who love the antics of puffins and spending time on the ocean shouldn’t miss this Sunday’s fourth annual Puffin Cruise and Seabird Island Adventure with the Friends of Maine Seabird Islands, according to Camden bird-watcher Kristen Lindquist.

“They’re a lot of fun,” Lindquist, who also is the Coastal Mountains Land Trust development director, said Thursday about the cruises. “Last year it was especially cool. Even though it was foggy, and the weather wasn’t great, we got close enough to see the birds and also established a radio link with one of the researchers who is staying on the island.”

Lindquist said that according to a recent report from the Puffin Project, Maine’s puffin population has been “doing great” this summer, which has had much more sunshine so far than the 2009 season.

“By mid-July, researchers had already found almost a record number of occupied burrows,” she said. “They were anticipating finding a record number by the end of the season.”

The bright-beaked seabirds nest in burrows.

The three-hour cruise brings a chartered boat to Eastern Egg Rock, a seabird nesting island in Muscongus Bay. Seabird biologists will be on board to discuss conservation projects under way on Maine’s seabird islands and provide an update on how the birds have fared over the summer breeding season, according to a press re-lease from Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

“We’re not allowed to land, but we go around the island,” Lindquist said. “The captain knows what we’re looking for, and we can see what we want to see, not just have to catch glimpses on our way to somewhere else.”

The Puffin Cruise and Seabird Island Adventure leaves at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1, on the Elizabeth Ann out of Port Clyde. It costs $30 per person, and reservation by advance ticket purchase is required. Drinks and light refreshments are provided. Tickets may be purchased at the Owl & Turtle Bookstore at the Knox Mill in Cam-den, Sweet Sensations on Route 1 in Rockport, the Project Puffin Visitor Center in downtown Rockland or the Maine Coastal Islands NWR office in the Rockport Industrial Park off Route 1. For more information, call 236-6970, ext. 12.

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