tufted puffin project
Formerly common in Washington along the outer coast and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands, puffins have suffered the reduction and disappearance of many breeding colonies in the state, accompanied by a dramatic population decline. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission listed the tufted puffin as endangered in 2015.
When weather and conditions allow, Guardians will observe and survey tufted puffins on Smith Island through continuous and instantanous count methods at set stations. Guardians will also observe and record the puffin's cliff-top burrows. Smith Island is one of the last remaining breeding colonies in the Salish Sea.
The species formerly bred in small numbers at sites throughout the San Juan Islands, but colonies on inland marine waters are now restricted to Protection and Smith islands in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca (see Figure 2 Recent and historical colonies from WA State Recovery Plan).
Reasons for the decline are uncertain, but may include reduced prey availability, predation at nesting colonies, human disturbance (mainly historical), or factors related to climate change (WA State Recovery Plan, 2019).