Here's Petey the Puffin, trying to swallow a butterfish that's far too large for his throat.

... the little grey fluff ball... keeps tossing his head back, trying to choke down the fish, only to drop it, shaking with the effort. Petey tries again and again, but he never manages it. For weeks his parents kept bringing him butterfish, and he kept struggling. Eventually, he began moving less and less. On July 20, Petey expired in front of a live audience.

Puffins normally raise chicks successfully 77% of the time in the Gulf of Maine, and Petey's parents had a good track record. But hake and herring, upon which Puffins depend, disappeared leaving only butterfish, which chicks couldn't swallow. In 2012, only 31% fledged.

In Empty Nest Syndrome, Rowan Jacobson describes a tipping point passed for East Coast water.  In 2013 phytoplankton didn't bloom as usual in Spring. NOAA described the bloom as "so poorly developed, its extent was below detection limits." This wiped out zooplankton, tiny fish and shrimp.  In 2013 only 10% of Puffin chicks survived.

Jacobson describes many other anomalies, like Florida species off of the Maine coast and the complete collapse of the Gulf of Maine shrimp population with "little prospect of recovery".

Living on the East Coast, this is profoundly disturbing to me. I keep seeing Petey in my mind's eye, starving, struggling to swallow fish the wrong shape for his throat, over and over, until he dies ... multiplied ... as thousands of other baby seabirds without names die unseen.

I killed Petey, driving my car, filling my gas tank. Rex Tillerson killed Petey for his disgusting profit. The Koch brothers killed Petey. We're all enablers. We're a sick sick fossil fuel civilization, destroying our irreplaceable biome.

Petey's death forshadows our future.

This has to stop!

[note: at this time the Mother Jones article is not yet available online for free]

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for this article

Here's a video of Petey.

Puffins are now also endangered in Europe.

... the severe decline reported in this study is cause for considerable concern.

“This decline reflects the recent change in the IUCN pan-European conservation status of puffin to ‘endangered.’”

Puffin breeding numbers ‘drop by half’



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