Puffins star in live HD video streaming
This still frame from streaming online video, provided by explore.org, the Annenberg Foundation and the National Audubon Society, shows puffins on the shore of Seal Island, Maine, Wednesday, June 27, 2012
PORTLAND — Two high-definition cameras began streaming live video Wednesday of clown-like Atlantic puffins waddling, preening and nesting on a remote Maine island.
The National Audubon Society and explore.org teamed up to stream video from Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge to anyone with an Internet connection. Located about 20 miles offshore, the island has the largest puffin colony in the U.S.
The video marks the first time high-definition cameras have been used in North America to stream video of Atlantic puffins, said Steve Kress, director of Audubon's seabird restoration program.
One camera shows puffins and other seabirds on the island's rocky ledges, flapping their wings and coming and going while waves crash on shore. The other camera is underground, inside a burrow showing a puffin in her nesting site. It is so close to the bird you can look into its eye.
The goal is to engage the public and spur interest in seabird restoration, said Kress, who has worked with puffins for nearly four decades.
"About a third of all seabird species in the world are threatened with extinction," Kress said. "It's the most troubled group of birds in the world. And the puffin is the bird among seabirds that people can relate to."
The Atlantic puffin is sometimes called the "clown of the sea" with its colorful striped beak, its diminutive stature and the comical way it waddles.
The birds live across a vast expanse of the North Atlantic from Maine to northern Russia, but they almost disappeared from Maine when settlers hunted them to near-extinction for food and feathers in the 1800s. By 1900, only small numbers of puffins nested on just two Maine islands.
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